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La Statue des Six Bourgeois de Calais

Historic site and monument in Calais

  • It is one of the first episodes of the Hundred Years' War. After his victory at Crécy (August 1346), Edward III of England led the siege of Calais, a town then surrounded by ramparts, in order to starve the population. The city surrendered on 4 August 1347. Eustache de Saint-Pierre, Pierre and Jacques de Wissant, Jean d'Aire, Jean de Fiennes and Andrieus d'Andres then devoted themselves to saving the survivors. Edward III of England had demanded that notables come to hand him the keys to the...
    It is one of the first episodes of the Hundred Years' War. After his victory at Crécy (August 1346), Edward III of England led the siege of Calais, a town then surrounded by ramparts, in order to starve the population. The city surrendered on 4 August 1347. Eustache de Saint-Pierre, Pierre and Jacques de Wissant, Jean d'Aire, Jean de Fiennes and Andrieus d'Andres then devoted themselves to saving the survivors. Edward III of England had demanded that notables come to hand him the keys to the town, dressed in a sheet and with a rope around his neck... The Philippine Queen of Hainaut would have obtained them from her husband. The Crown of England put its hand on the town for 211 years, until it was taken over by François de Guise in 1558, commanding the French troops responsible for the recapture of Calais.

    Centuries later, an old Calaisian project resurfaced, paying homage. A public commission was placed with the master Auguste Rodin and after many adventures, the bronze ensemble (weighing 1.5 tons) was inaugurated in 1895 at the entrance to the Richelieu Park. The statue was moved to the Place d'Armes between the two World Wars before finding its current location - opposite the town hall - after the Second World War.

    The life-size bronze group of the Six Bourgeois is today one of Auguste Rodin's best-known creations. And although the very first cast iron statue was made in Calais, eleven other editions of the statue can be seen today at the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen (Denmark), the Royal Museum of Mariemont (Belgium), the Parliament Gardens in London (Great Britain), the Rodin Museum in Philadelphia (USA), the Rodin Museum in Paris (France), the Kunstmuseum Basel (Switzerland), the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Washington (USA), the National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo (Japan), the Norton Simon Museum of Art in Pasadena (USA), the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (USA), and the Samsung Foundation for Art and Culture in Seoul (South Korea).