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Heroic Head of Pierre de Wissant, One of the Burghers of Calais

Heroic Head of Pierre de Wissant, One of the Burghers of Calais

1886

Auguste Rodin

(French, 1840-1917)

Plaster

Overall: 85.1 x 61 x 50.8 cm (33 1/2 x 24 x 20 in.)

Gift of Loïe Fuller 1917.722

Description

This sculpture depicts one of the figures in Rodin’s large public monument The Burghers of Calais (1884–89), featuring six French men who volunteered to be taken prisoner by the English in exchange for lifting the siege of Calais during the Hundred Years War (1337–1453). Pierre de Wissant’s anguished expression suggests extreme mental suffering as he contemplates his expected execution. Rodin exhibited a life-size version of the figure as an independent work before completing the monument. He later made multiple versions in various sizes and media. This plaster features a highly expressive, hand-worked surface inscribed in places with graphite and covered with delicate, tinted washes.

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