Eustache de Saint Pierre Auguste Rodin Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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The French Sculptor Auguste Rodin (12 November 1840 – 17 November 1917) is widely considered as the founding father of modern sculpture. Throughout his life he created thousands of sculptures, as well as a large number of prints and drawings.

One of his most famous sculptures is Eustache de Saint Pierre which was created between 1885 and 1886. Originally the sculpture was one of a group of figures collectively known as the The Burghers of Calais, a work that was commissioned by the Calais town council to commemorate the gallantry of six of its inhabitants during the Hundred Years War. The Hundred Years War raged from 1337 to 1453 and the town of Calais was under continual siege from September 1346 to August 1347, and it was eventually forced to surrender to the English. Edward the third decreed that the town would be saved if six of the town's most prominent residents would give up their lives.

These six (The Burghers of Calais) gave the keys of the city to the king and were expecting to be killed. However, because of the intervention of the queen, their lives were spared. Rodin's first draft for the sculpture depicted Eustace de Saint Pierre (the leader, and oldest, of the group) as the dominant figure. Rodin then created a second draft which showed him as a dejected and dispirited man. The Calais town council initially rejected the second draft as it did not want Eustace to be shown in this desperate state.

Rodin, however, disagreed and stated that he wanted to show Eustace de Saint Pierre as a person in despair. Eventually the committee agreed to accept Rodin's second draft. Following his work on The Burghers of Calais, Rodin created individual nude sculptures of the protagonists. Rodin used a number of models for his nude cast of Eustace de Saint Pierre including the French painter Jean-Charles Cazin. This sculpture is now housed in Mexico City, in the Museo Soumaya. In addition to the full body sculpture Rodin also created head and hand sculptures of Eustace de Saint Pierre.