Philadelphia – Rodin Museum (The Burghers of Calais)

Not being much of an art expert I had only heard of Auguste Rodin and didn’t know much about him or his works. However, the Rodin Museum (a branch of the Philadelphia Museum of Art) has a lot of works by him, which is handy really since they named the gallery after him.

I’ve wondered before when I see bronze castings just how it can be classed as a Rodin, for example, if there are 100 examples of the work. My question was answered though, as French law dictates that there can only be twelve castings made for the works to be considered as being by the artist himself (or herself).

I like this, from a completionist point of view (I always think of the ‘completed it mate’ line from the Inbetweeners when using that word), as I can look out for the works at other museums and galleries around the world.

Wikipedia tells me where they all are:

(i) The 1895 cast of the group of six figures still stands in Calais. Other original casts stand at:

(ii) Glyptoteket in Copenhagen, cast 1903.

(iii) The Musée Royal de Mariemont in Morlanwelz, Belgium, cast 1905.

(iv) Victoria Tower Gardens in the shadow of the Houses of Parliament in London; cast 1908, installed on this site in 1914 and unveiled 19 July 1915. The inscription on the pedestal was carved by Eric Gill.

(v) The Rodin Museum in Philadelphia, cast 1925 and installed in 1929.

(vi) The gardens of the Musée Rodin in Paris, cast 1926 and given to the museum in 1955.

(vii) Kunstmuseum in Basel, cast 1943 and installed in 1948.

(viii) The Smithsonian Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., cast 1943 and installed in 1966.

(ix) The National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo, cast 1953 and installed in 1959.

(x) The Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, California, cast 1968.

(xi) The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, cast 1985 and installed in 1989.

(xii) Plateau (formerly called Rodin Gallery and now closed since 2016) in Seoul. This is the 12th and final cast in the edition, cast 1995.

This also solved my confusion as to where I had seen one of these castings before, and it is outside of the Houses of Parliament. I have been to a handful of the other locations, but I don’t remember seeing those castings.

The story goes that King Edward III attacked Calais and besieged it, finally saying that he would save the people of the city if six senior figures surrendered. Those six men were expecting to be executed, but Philippa of Hainault who was the wife of King Edward III, didn’t like this and so she saved their lives. The King did what he was told and the six men were allowed to live, although I’m sure there were some political machinations and intentions behind this whole saga.