Art 1A

Teddy Hung




The Burghers of Calais

Artist: Auguste Rodin

A. thesis Thesis statement and iInftroduction

The Burghers of Calais was one of the most famous sculptures by Auguste Rodin, completed in 1888. It was serves served as a monument to an occurrence in 1347 during the Hundred Yearsf War, when Calais, an important French port on the English Channel, was under siege by the English for over a year.


It was a naturalistic and representational sculpture made of Bronze. Auguste Rodin used carving for making it. He depicted for the six burghers, Eustache de Saint-Pierre, Jean d'Aire, Jacques and Pierre de Wissant, Jean de Fiennes, and Andrieu d'Andres. He depicted each personfs contour, emotion, action, and clothing narrowly. The first time I saw these sculptures; I thought they were scholars who were pondering on a new knowledge idea painfully. After Later, a tourist in the Stanford museum told me the story behind it, I realize I was wrong. Actually, they were heroes who were willing to sacrifice themselves to save a city.

B. Discussion that backs Backs up Up this central Central ideaIdea.

The story behind eThe Burghers of Calaish was about  happened around England's Edward III after a victory in the Battle of Credcy, laid siege to Calais and 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 parlay 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 almost naked and wearing nooses around their necks and be 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 soon followed suit and they stripped down to their breeches. Saint Pierre led this envoy of emaciated volunteers to the city gates and it is this moment and this poignant mix of defeat, heroic self-sacrifice and the facing of imminent mortality that Rodin captures in these figures, which are scaled somewhat larger than life.


This monument was different from traditional monuments. In the traditional monuments, they always show heroes striding forward proudly like Vaquero which in out textbook p255 11.5. He was wearing a steel armature and daredevil. However Rodin depicted these men are extremely pain when knowing that they have to leave their homes and families. He distorted the figures to express emotional trauma: the enlarged hands and feet emphasize their melancholy gestures and faltering steps, the tautened muscles convey a sense of physical stress, and the deeply sunken eyes and furrowed brows express heart-rending torment.


This method of sculptures is like Kuya Praching which in our textbook p.263 11.17. They are both representational sculptures. They both consider the proportion of the character. Also, they used a contrapposto, to set the body in a gentle S-shaped curve through a play of opposites, to show burgherfs painful action. However the theme of these two sculptures was totally different, Kuya Praching is about love. Mother, Mary, was taking care with a baby. The other one is about diedeath. The Burghersf reaction when they notice that they were going to die.


Why I chose this sculpture from all the printings and sculptures in at Stanford? The pillar main reason behind it was because I was attracted by its story. Though The Burghers of Calasi, I could tell those people were extremely painful when they realized that they were going to die, then I started to wonder why they still made this painful decision.  Form the research that I had, when Calaisf inhabitants knew that they had to send six the principal citizens of Calais. Then the most wealthy citizen of the town, by name Eustace de St. Pierre, rose up and said: gGentlemen, both high and low, it would be a very great pity to suffer so many people to die through famine, if any means could be found to prevent it; and it would be highly meritorious in the eyes of our Saviour, if such misery could be averted. I have such faith and trust in finding grace before God; if I die to save my townsmen that I name myself as first of the six.h


 In short, I really appreciated Eustace de St. Pierrefs courage and charisma. He sacrificed himself to save others life and five was follow. Therefore I chose this to describe in my term paper.

C. Conclusion.

The Burghers of Calais was a sad story in Calais. Because England was defeated by other country, six wealth people in town was facing die. Though the sculptures we can see peoplesf reaction, like painful, perplexingperplexation, claim etc. it was a famous sculpture we can find it all around in the USA, such as , at Standford University in California, the Metroplitan Museum of Art and Brooklyn Museum in New York City, the sculpture garden of the Hirshlorn Museum in Washington, D.C. If you had time to go and visit it once, you would be attracted by the sculptureit too.


Figure 1. Burghers were extremely pain when knowing that they have to leave their homes and families.



 Figure 2.    

TheyBurghers were wearing nooses around their necks and carrying the keys to the city and castle.

Figure 3. The information posted next to the sculpture.

Auguste Rodin

France, 1840-1917


Second Maquettes (Studies) for the

Burghers of Calais


Jean de Fiencnes, 1885

Bronze, 1/12

Godard Foundry, cast 1979


Gift  of the B. Gerald Cantor Collection, 1992.146


Pierre de Weissant, 1885

Jacques de Weissant, 1885

Eustache de Satin-Pierre, 1885

Andrieu dfAndres, 1885

Jean dfAire,1885-86



Scsse Foundry, cast 1971


Gift of the Iris and B Gerald Cantor Foundation, 1974.98, 1974.99, 1974.101, 1974.117




Book: Gilberfs living with art 2005.Mark Getlein McGraw-Hill


Website: Wikipedia

 (accessed November 30, 2006)

Virtual Gallery (accessed November 30, 2006)