Work of Art: Monumental Head of Pierre de Wissant
Auguste Rodin
Monumental Head of Pierre de Wissant
Modeled circa 1884–1885, enlarged before 1909, cast 1980
32 x 19 x 20 1/2 in. (81.3 x 48.3 x 52.1 cm)
Gift of the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation, 2009

In this larger-than-life portrait, Pierre de Wissant’s introspective agony is amplified to an almost unbearable intensity. The tilt of the head, given greater emphasis through the unusual base of the sculpture, makes this agony even more poignant. The source of Wissant’s anguish was his decision to join five other civic leaders who agreed to sacrifice their own lives in 1347 to free their besieged city of Calais from English occupation.

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