Auguste Rodin, Calaijski meščani /The Burghers of Calais /Les Bourgeois de Calais
The Burghers of Calais, commemorating an episode during the Hundred Years’ War between England and France, is probably the best and certainly the most successful of Rodin’s public monuments. Rodin closely followed the account of the French chronicler Jean Froissart stating that six of the principal citizens of Calais were ordered to come out of the besieged city with heads and feet bare, ropes around their necks, and the keys of the town and the castle in their hands. They were brought before the English king Edward III, who ordered their beheading. Rodin portrayed them at the moment of departure from their city led by Eustache de Saint-Pierre, the bearded man in the middle of the group. At his side, Jean d’Aire carries a giant-sized key. Their oversized feet are bare, several have ropes around their necks, and all are in various states of despair, expecting imminent death and unaware that their lives will ultimately be saved by the intercession of the English queen Philippa. The arrangement of the group, with its unorthodox massing and subtle internal rhythms, was not easily settled.