pahavit (pahavit) wrote,

Today's field trip: Stanford University

Today's field trip: Stanford University

Today D. and I spent some time looking at the sculpture and architecture at Stanford University. The sculpture highlight for me was one of the 12 officially-sanctioned recasts of Auguste Rodin's "The Burghers of Calais."

The town council of the French city of Calais commissioned Rodin to produce a sculpture that would pay tribute to the heroic role played by the burghers of Calais during the Hundred Years’ War.

King Edward III of England laid siege to the French town of Calais. After eleven months the people were desperately short of food and water, so six of the leading townspeople ("burghers") of Calais offered themselves as hostages to Edward in exchange for their city's freedom. The king agreed, making them dress in plain garments, wear nooses around their necks, and bring him the keys to the city.

Rodin chose to portray the moment when the men, believing they are going to die, leave the city. He shows the burghers as vulnerable and conflicted, yet heroic in the face of their likely fate. (Edward's wife made him spare their lives, but they didn't know that yet.)

The installation at Stanford Memorial Court is how Rodin wanted it: not mounted on a pedestal, but flush with the ground. We could walk right up to the figures and look right in their anguished and despairing faces, nearly eye-to-eye.

My favorite building was the Stanford Memorial Church. There are many stylistic influences inside, including Arts & Crafts, Baroque, Byzantine and Moorish elements. The interior walls are covered with mosaics, many of which have a gold background. The effect of all the light pouring in from the dome at the transept was radiant. The stained glass windows and detailed carvings were stunning.

Then I got tired so we headed home; just in time, because it began to rain just as we were leaving the campus.

Tags: field trip, rodin, stanford

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