Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Burghers of Calais

Burghers of Calais, modeled 1884-95
Auguste Rodin
bronze cast - 1985
lost wax casting of plaster model
H. 82 1/2 in.
Metropolitan Museum of of Art

Right hand image - first casting of sculpture in Calais, France. Installed 1895.

One of the fascinating things about sculpture is the reproduction ability. Note the sculpture owned by the Met was cast in 1985, while the original was cast in 1895.

I discovered The Burghers of Calais during study for my first lecture hall lecture in graduate school. The work, along with much late 19th century work was strikingly different from my initial focus on Impressionism. The expression imbued in this monument is incredible, it works out now only of the subject matter (click on title above to get an overview of the story) of the sculpture but the texture and modeling, the position of the figures, facial expression, arm gestures and the hanging of heads. This approach to the monument was controversial because Rodin did not portray the burghers as heroes but as worn individuals. Rodin wished for the statue to be presented at the same level as the viewer, not on a pedestal, adding to the personal, real nature of the work.

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