Auguste Rodin’s “The Burghers of Calais” is a sculpture that depicts a pivotal event during the Hundred Years’ War. The work portrays six prominent citizens who surrendered to the English king, Edward III, offering their lives for their fellow residents. It was created between 1884-86 and has become one of Rodin’s most famous pieces.
The sculpture commemorates an event that occurred when Calais surrendered to the English army after an eleven-month siege. Rodin aimed to bring viewers into his work by positioning each figure in a different stance and lowering them down to street level. This way, the burghers seem isolated from each other by their unique, often energetic poses and gestures. Their profound anguish at leaving their homes and families is further emphasized by ropes encircling their necks and rough robes covering their bodies.
Rodin’s artistic inspiration came from Michelangelo’s sculptures which influenced him to enlarge the figures’ hands, heads, and feet – heightening their monumentality in relation to what they are enduring. The detail given showed how crucial it used to be for artwork back then as it progressed with time – brush strokes detailing faces became more apparent over time while artists started shaping up iconic art styles known today such as realism or cubism.