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Ca' Pesaro
Auguste Rodin
(Parigi, 1840 – Meudon, 1917)
The Burghers of Calais
1889
plaster
215 × 265 × 202 cm
Art description

Auguste Rodin, the greatest French sculptor of his time, has an anti-academic background. Fascinated by Michelangelo, he combines the naturalism of form, classical art and the dynamism of poses, creating masterpieces of disruptive originality. In 1884 the City of Calais asks him to conceive a monument to commemorate an episode that occurred in 1347, during the Hundred Years' War. The city of Calais, after having suffered a severe siege by the troops of the King of England, decides to surrender. Six bourgeois, led by Eustache de Saint-Pierre, offer themselves in exchange for the liberation of the city. The English sovereign, struck by the gesture of the French patriots, grants them salvation. The famous sculptural group represents the moment in which the bourgeois leave the city to meet their destiny of death, isolated from each other, barefoot, dressed only in tunics and with a noose around their neck. After many events, the monument was inaugurated on June 3, 1895. The original plaster, from 1889, was destroyed after the bronze monument was cast; that of Ca' Pesaro is the third example of plaster, made by Rodin to be exhibited in Vienna and at the Venice Biennale.