The Burghers of Calais 1895 “In 1347 King Edward III had besieged the French town of Calais for nearly a year, and by early August its starved population could not hold out any longer. Edward III then told the people of Calais that they would all be killed, unless six of its citizens presented themselves to the King, dressed only in their shirts, with a rope around their necks, and with the keys to the city in their hands. Rodin centered The Burghers of Calais around a modern version of heroism that can be termed ‘civic heroism', which draws on the collective and civic courage of the average person, rather than on the physical courage of the single and outstanding individual. Or, to put it differently, Rodin turned the statue into a democratic exemplum” ( Richard Swedberg in Theory, Culture and Society, 2005).
Honoré de Balzac 20 May 1799 – 18 August 1850 Due to his keen observation of detail and unfiltered representation of society, Balzac is regarded as one of the founders of realism in European literature. He is renowned for his multifaceted characters, who are complex, morally ambiguous and fully human. His writing influenced many subsequent novelists. Auguste Rodin Monument to Balzac 1891–1898
“As form followed form, Rodin’s vision slowly grew. And at last he saw Balzac: a substantial figure, striding powerfully forwards, its heaviness counteracted by the fall of the coat. The hair weighed down the powerful neck, and from the mass of hair there gazed a face intoxicated with its own vision, a face that boiled with creative energy: the fact of an elemental force. This was Balzac in in all the fullness of his productive powers, the founder of generations, the waster of fates…This was how Rodin saw Balzac in the moment of intense concentration and tragic exaggeration, and this is how he created him. The image did not fade: it came into being.” --Rainer Maria Rilke