Auguste Rodin’s sculpture, Jean de Fiennes, is one of six sculptures that make up The Burghers of Calais. Rodin chose to present ordinary men dressed in sackcloth with exaggerated facial expressions, elongated limbs, and heavily layered clothing. Not limited to just portraiture or figuration, the sculptor’s works attempted to convey emotion and narrative through an associative process, rather than a literal one.
The present version of Jean de Fiennes modeled at least two trial versions before being constructed with a shirt draped from both his outstretched arms. This bronze sculpture owned by the University of Iowa is displayed on a low pedestal, almost at ground level. Despite being cast posthumously, this bronze work is considered an original creation by Auguste Rodin.
Jean de Fiennes was captain of the town of Calais during the Hundred Years War in 1347; multiple versions of modello for de Fiennes were created with different poses and clothing. There are several casts of Jean de Fiennes, having varying dates and locations.