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The Call of Arms
Auguste Rodin (1840 -1917)
H. 230 cm ; W. 116 cm ; D. 84.5 cm
Cast for the museum collections “in accordance with Mr Rodin’s wishes”; gilded in 1937 to be placed at the far end of the gardens, on the south side.
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Taking part in public competitions was the best way for a young sculptor to earn a reputation and commissions. In 1879, Rodin submitted two projects, Bellona and The Call to Arms, also called The Defence, to the competitions launched by the French state for a Monument to the Republic and a Monument to the Defence of Paris.
A design for an “allegorical monument representing the Defence of Paris in 1870”, to be erected at the Rond-point de Courbevoie, The Call to Arms is a depiction of a naked, wounded soldier, who vividly recalls the figure of Christ in Michelangelo’s Pietˆ (now in the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Florence). He is supported by a winged genius, whose furious expression, horizontal outstretched arms and clenched fists recall Rude’s Genius of Liberty, on the Arc de Triomphe. Rodin’s group was eliminated in the first round,the jury preferring the more conventional, more balanced entry from Louis- Ernest Barrias. It “must have seemed too violent, too strident. So little road had been covered since Rude’s Genius of Liberty that also shrieks with all her strength,” Rodin admitted in 1917.
The group was enlarged to double its size in 1912, before being reworked and further enlarged between 1917 and 1919, for a Dutch monument committee, who then donated it to the city ofVerdun.