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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Burghers of Calais at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York

There are 13 casts of the famous sculpture by Rodin [The Burghers of Calais]. I've seen four of them (Paris, Washington, Los Angeles, New York). I took this photo today at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

The burghers thought they were sacrificing their lives to save the inhabitants of Calais, which was being starved into submission by Edward III of England in 1347. Their lives were spared after Queen Philippa convinced her husband to be lenient.

One of my ancestors is Paon de Roet. He was a knight in Queen Phillippa's retinue and was one of two knights assigned to protect the burghers of Calais. I descend from Paon de Roet's daughter, Katherine. Her sister, Philippa (named after the Queen), married a poet named Geoffrey Chaucer [My Connection to Geoffrey Chaucer and Medieval Science].


John Harshman said...

There's one on the Stanford campus. Never been there?

Larry Moran said...

Never saw the statues. I think they are the only ones that are separated.

John Harshman said...

There's a whole Rodin sculpture garden: the kiss, fallen caryatid, gates of hell, etc.

Rosie Redfield said...

I watched the Gates of Hell being installed at Stanford. Very dramatic - many very strong men struggling to control a massive sculpture of many very strong men struggling.

Peter Nigos said...

By identifying 13 copies of the famous Burgers of Calais statue, Dr Moran has unwittingly entered the troubled waters of artistic reproduction - which make arguments about junk DNA seem like discussions among old friends. Rodin was encouraged to bequeath his original sculptures and the casts used to make bronze statues to the French state before he died in 1917. Only four bronze statues of the Burghers were made before his death, and presumably he finished their surfaces, and approved their release. We can argue whether statues made from his casts after his death are originals: and unlike Crick's dogma, statues can also be made by making new casts from an original bronze and working backwards. The situation became so confused that the government passed Decree 93-193 (Code de la Propriety Intellectuelle) to restrict Rodin bronzes to 12 copies. To make things worse, it was possible to make individual statues of the Burghers which were then sold outside the 12 original major copies.
This situation is unfortunately not unique: you can pay a lot for an "original" photographic print of Yosemite made in 2015 from Ansel Adam's original negative - often with an "original" signature thirty years after his death.
None of this detracts from the aesthetic value of the original (nor from the links to Dr Moran's genealogy), but perhaps we should acknowledge only those copies made during the artist's lifetime.