Art and Controversy in Philadelphia
The Burghers of Calais
Make your way over to the sculpture and stop in front of it.
[2 SECOND PAUSE]
Rodin chose to depict the men during their departure towards death. You can see the expressions of deep anguish on the prisoners’ faces. The sculpture was meant to be realistic and relatable, but realistic was not the popular sculpture style of the day. Classic, unattainable perfection was preferred.
It was scandalous at the time to show the heroes as desperate, vulnerable men.
Each figure handles grief in their own, unique way. Most art appreciators seem to favor the man holding his head, as he appears to be suffering the most. But I prefer the figure leaning into his elevated arm, because although he is pained, he appears to be determined to handle his emotions with a touch of poetic grace.
[1.5 SECOND PAUSE]
When you're ready to move on, make your way to the front of the museum and walk to the top of the steps.