This powerful and emotion-filled sculpture brings the past alive
On Dec. 2, a remarkable artwork arrived at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art and was unveiled in the Maribeth Collins Lobby. As the crating and packing materials were removed a powerful and towering figure full of emotion came to light and now visitors can stand face to face with French sculptor Auguste Rodin’s Eustache de Saint-Pierre, Vétu. Thanks to a private lender, this sculpture will be on view through May 17, 2015.
French sculptor Auguste Rodin is considered by many to be the father of modern sculpture and is known for his ability to capture the human spirit and convey intense emotion in ways that resonate deeply with viewers. Notable sculptures by Rodin include The Thinker and The Kiss.
This sculpture is from a series of six figures that Rodin created in the late 1800s as a memorial to the Hundred Years’ War (1337 to 1453) between England and France that is titled The Burghers of Calais.
The memorial commemorates a particular event which occurred during the yearlong siege of the city of Calais by the English in 1347. With the population of Calais facing starvation, King Edward III of England offered to spare the populace if six of the city’s leaders surrendered themselves. The Mayor of Calais, Eustache de Saint-Pierre (depicted in the sculpture on view at the museum), along with five other city leaders, surrendered themselves with nooses tied around their necks. The sculpture captures the powerful moment when these men left the city to hand themselves over to be transported to England for their execution. Remarkably, upon arrival in England the pregnant Queen of England, Philippa of Hainault, requested that they be spared.
The Burghers of Calais were conceived in 1887. The Eustache de Saint-Pierre, Vétu at the museum is a lost-wax casting made in 1985.