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Rodin statuary

April 22, 2014

My favorite sculptor of all time is François-Auguste-René Rodin. In England I trekked over to the Victoria Tower Gardens nearby the House of Parliament to see one of the several casts of The Burghers of Calais. It was a little difficult getting good pictures because it was up on a pedestal instead of on the ground where Rodin intended the figures to be seen, but the effect was still provoking.

The full set

Here is the description from Wikipedia about the history of these figures:

“England’s Edward III, after a victory in the Battle of Crécy, laid siege to Calais, while Philip VI of France ordered the city to hold out at all costs. Philip failed to lift the siege, and starvation eventually forced the city to parley for surrender.

Edward offered to spare the people of the city if any six of its top leaders would surrender themselves to him, presumably to be executed. Edward demanded that they walk out wearing nooses around their necks, and carrying the keys to the city and castle. One of the wealthiest of the town leaders, Eustache de Saint Pierre, volunteered first, and five other burghers joined with him. Saint Pierre led this envoy of volunteers to the city gates. It was this moment, and this poignant mix of defeat, heroic self-sacrifice, and willingness to face imminent death that Rodin captured in his sculpture, scaled somewhat larger than life.

Although the burghers expected to be executed, their lives were spared by the intervention of England’s Queen, Philippa of Hainault, who persuaded her husband to exercise mercy by claiming that their deaths would be a bad omen for her unborn child.”

Despair, Anger? Resignation.

I just love how expressive the men are. Each one portraying a different emotion in not only their faces, but also how they are standing, where their hands are and what they’re doing, even their clothes are descriptive of distress. There is despair, anger, resignation, humility… all beautifully captured by the skill of this amazing sculptor.

Despair

Rodin makes beautiful hands. I had the opportunity to visit a museum exhibit, in Utah of all places, where dozens of examples of hands sculpted and drawn by Rodin were on display. It was amazing how expressive just a set of hands can be.

Determination?

In France I insisted on visiting Musee Rodin where another sample of the group was on display in the garden; here is another angle:

A good view of the short guy in the back

Here are some of his other works.

The Famous Thinker!

I love how Rodin explained his Thinker: “What makes my Thinker think is that he thinks not only with his brain, with his knitted brow, his distended nostrils and compressed lips, but with every muscle of his arms, back, and legs, with his clenched fist and gripping toes.” I gripped my toes as best I could, but you can’t see that in the picture.

Victor Hugo

Victor Hugo calming not the waves, but patting Emilie on the head.

Balzac and The Kiss

Then we have Balzac in his famous bathrobe, The Kiss, some of those lovely sculpted hands, and a fragment of a woman curled up. Just lovely. If you go to France, you must You Must visit Musee Rodin.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. April 22, 2014 7:45 pm

    I can’t believe you found time to do this. Well done!

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