South Carolina Vacation: Brookgreen Gardens – The Rodin Exhibit
We visited Brookgreen Gardens for the third time on Sunday, February 26. We arrived at the gardens around 10:00 am. We parked in the main parking lot. I took so many pictures during our visit that they merit at least three blog posts.
Our first stop was in the Rosen Galleries. Featured in the Rosen Galleries from Jan 28, 2023 through Aril 25, 2003 is an exhibition of some of Auguste Rodin’s best-known sculptures. At the entrance to the exhibit, a docent directed us to a sign on the wall that told us about Auguste Rodin.
“At the peak of his career, Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) was regarded as the greatest sculptor since Michelangelo. He rejected nineteenth-century academic traditions that dictated what was proper in art and instead transformed sculpture into an art that conveyed the vitality of the human spirit. His vigorous modeling emphasized his personal response to the subject, and he conveyed movement and emotion by inventing new poses and gestures. He created his own form of artistic expression. Today, it is acknowledged that Rodin’s work led sculpture into the modern era and that his studio practices led artists there, too. Because both during his lifetime and after his death his work could be seen all over the world, it is celebrated for its innovations, risks, and inventiveness. Rodin continues to influence artists as an example of one who accepted being controversial if it meant being true to his own aesthetic ideals.”
I photographed a few of the sculptures. Each sculpture was accompanied by an informational placard.
“Balzac was renowned for his corpulence, his appetites, and the disproportion of his body (his legs were very short)….Rodin took on the task of “creating for an impatient committee of sculpturally unsophisticated writers a heroic public monument destined for the heart of the nation’s capital. The subject of this daunting effort was a short, fat, ugly man who wrote books.” … Rodin gave Balzac more physical strength than he really had, perhaps suggesting the writer’s intellect could inform his physique.”
An informatory placard was displayed on the wall next to the picture of “The Burghers of Calais”.
“The Burghers of Calais was commissioned in 1884 (1337-1453). In 1347, King Edward III of England laid siege to Calais. This siege prevented food from entering the city for 100 days. Edward offered to end it if citizens of Calais would bring him the keys to the gates; he told them that he intended to then execute these citizens (“burghers”). Nevertheless, six burghers volunteered….”
Here are four of the six sculptures of the burghers.
“Said to be the youngest of the storied six burghers, Jean de Fiennes is also the most vocal. It’s as if walking forward, he turns sideways to yell or speak about his self-inflicted fate…Jean de Fiennes carries no props; instead, his open mouth and expansive gesture provide the theatricality necessary for the occasion.”
“…Unlike the other burghers, Pierre de Wissant seems to have no predetermined front and back. Instead, the figure twists and turns, the head looks down and backwards at the lagging-behind foot that picks itself up to move toward doom…”
“…Jacques De Wissant’s raised right hand allies him with the gesture made by his brother, Pierre, but sets him apart from the other burghers. Perhaps the gesture is to shield his eyes from the scene before him. His hands, legs, and feet are somewhat larger than they should be …, as if to convey the man’s reluctance to move and the weight of the oversized key he carries.”
“Eustache de St. Pierre, the only one named in the medieval Chronicles, was described as an old, civic-minded, and wealthy man; the first to volunteer for the task. The figure of Eustache steps forward on the left foot, leading the burghers from their assembly place in the Town Square. His body implies movement-in-progress…His whole body seems to bear a burden as it moves…”
I hadn’t heard of Auguste Rodin before walking through the Rosen Galleries. I believe I will recognize his name henceforth!
There is more to share about this visit to Brookgreen Gardens, so please check back soon.
3 Responses to “South Carolina Vacation: Brookgreen Gardens – The Rodin Exhibit”
Balzac looks quite proud of his corpulence!
Haha Yes, he does.
That is one of the things I like best about travel – a person learns things. I like how you say you’d never heard of Rodin but now will recognize his name – and you will know of his work. It is amazing to me that these sculptures were made so long ago.