Rodin’s Burghers – Under The Spotlight

Published - 18th Nov 2016

In 1895, at the time that The Burghers of Calais monument was finally being installed at Calais, Rodin began work on reductions of five of the six figures.

This 2015 exhibition showed two sets of these reductions including early castings from the lifetime of the sculptor as well as examples cast by the Alexis Rudier foundry between 1920 and 1940. Comparisons can be made between different foundries, dates of production and individual patinas – and these iconic works can all be viewed ‘under the spot light’.

The Burghers of Calais have become Rodin’s most famous and recognisable monument.  It commemorates a historical event of 1347 during the Hundred Years’ War.  Although Philip VI of France had decreed that Calais be held at all costs, its inhabitants were starved and weak after they had been subjected to a siege by the English for over a year.  The English King, Edward III, who controlled access to the city, offered to spare the lives of the citizens if six of the most prominent among them would surrender themselves to him.  They were to come with bare heads and feet, a rope around their necks and bearing the keys to the city and its castle.  Expecting to be executed, six of the richest burghers gave themselves up to Edward in this way but his Queen, Philippa of Hainault, intervened and their lives were spared.

This film features an interview with gallery director Edward Horswell, discussing these iconic sculptures and will appeal to both lovers of Rodin’s work and those interested in the art of bronze casting.



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