Dimensions: 79 1/2 x 35 x 49 inches
walking figure, head in his hands
This figure is from Rodin’s monument titled The Burghers of Calais commemorating the surrender of the besieged French city of Calais to English King Edward III in 1347. With the people desperately short of food and water, six of the leading citizens, or burghers, of Calais offered themselves as hostages to Edward in exchange for the freedom of their city. The king agreed, ordering them to dress in plain garments, wear nooses around their necks, and journey to his camp bearing the keys to the city. Although the king intended to kill the burghers, his pregnant wife, Philippa, persuaded him to spare them, believing that their deaths would be a bad omen for her unborn child. Andrieu d’Andres was among the six burghers who offered themselves as hostages. Expecting death, his pose and gesture express anguish and desperation. In this sculpture, Rodin deftly captures a moment poignant with a mix of defeat and heroic self-sacrifice. His characteristic modeling style, leaving shadowy hollows and gleaming ridges, perfectly describes the figure’s emaciated physique.
Gift of John and Carmen Gottschalk and G. Woodson and Anda Howe, 2002