Lecture: Rodin's Sculpture in Calais: Narrator: Listen to part of a lecture in an art history class. Professor: Ok, we've been discussing art of nineteenth century France. Today, I'll continue with the discussion of a sculpture that was quite innovative for its time. In 1884, the town council of Calais, a city on the northern coast of France, wanted to have a monument made. They commissioned the sculptor Auguste Rodin to create this monument, which became known as the burgers of Calais. Now there's a story behind this monument, the tale of the burgers of Calais which dates back to fourteenth century France, when France was at war with England. King Edward III of England set up a blockade around the town of Calais, the town's citiens soon grew desperate for food and water. Eventually, according to one version of the story, six wealthy citizens called Burgers declared they would offer themselves to the king as hostages, provided that in exchange, he would set the town free. The king agreed, but ordered the six men to dress in plain clothes for the walk to his camp, so that the town's people would be unable to recognize their status. Well, Rodin, so portrayed the burgers at the point in the story when they were beginning their march to King Edward's camp, dressed in plain clothes. But this wasn't what the town council of Calais had in mind when they commissioned Rodin to commemorate the event. They wanted Rodin to portray the burgers at an earlier stage of the narrative while they still wore fine garments. They expected the men to look determined and brave like proud heroes which was the traditional approach to commemorative sculptures. Rodin, however, wanted the sculpture to be more realistic. I mean I think Rodin was trying to make a valid point. Shouldn't the man look weak and vulnerable like any ordinary human being would look in such circumstances? By showing their vulnerability, the monument would give the citizens of Calais a better idea of how these men must have felt in the face of an uncertain fate. So, ok. Rodin wanted to depict the emotions involved with offering oneself to an uncertain fate. And to do that, he used methods that are very different from those of other artists in France at the time. And many of these methods simply added to the town council members initial displeasure. First of all, the hands and feet of the figures are disproportionately large compared to the rest of their bodies. Rodin literally weighed the men down to show that they were burdened by their decision, that they're questioning whether they'll have the strength to go through with it. And the facial expressions of the individual figures are different from one another, expressing a range of emotions. One man even has his head buried in his hands. Rodin wanted to show the psychological complexity that each man has his own personal reaction to the decision, but this wasn't the only way Rodin apart from convention. It was typical in Rodin's time to portray a group of people in a hierarchical arrangement with the most prominent figure in the highest position. Rodin didn't do that for the burgers of Calais, choosing instead to have all six figures stand on the same level. Actually, It's difficult to distinguish who the most important person is, or even if there is one. This lets viewers concentrate on the individual figures, in fact, Rodin forces viewers to look at the individual figures. Aside from having them all on the same level, he made each figure face in a different direction. So you can't look at the sculpture just from one side and see the entire piece, because there isn't one point of reference. This is not the norm for his time. Usually people were able to see an entire sculpture from one angle, from one perspective, because sculptures had a clear front and back. But Rodin's work wasn't entirely unconventional, I think, in a sense, it connected the 19th and 20th centuries. The depiction of historical subject matter in sculpture was certainly typical of his time. And regardless whether the tale was factual, it was certainly historically real to the citizens of Calais. However, Rodin's work definitely points to a new direction for sculpture. The burgers of Calais is a clear departure from the cold, impersonal smoothness of the classical tradition. It had a strong influence on other sculptors of Rodin's time. And I think it's fair to say that help determine the trend of modern sculpture.