Sculpture plays an important role in the history of art. It combines the ancient people’s wisdom and their skillfulness. In the trip of metropolitan, Perseus With The Head of Medusa which is created by Antonio Canova and The Burghers of Calais which is made by Auguste Rodin are the fabulous sculptures that impress me. Although those two sculptures are created in 18th century, they have different features including the surface appearance of the sculpture, the size and the placement of each sculpture.
The sculpture’s surface appearance and drapery are the main differences between Perseus With The Head of Medusa and Burghers of Calais. In the sculpture of Perseus, the muscles are carved definitively, showing well-defined and visible muscle. Because of the naked body, the audience tends to see a natural and perfect “perhaps a body of a god. ” The lack of clothes influences the people to focus on the muscles. This is the purpose of the sculptures. Antonio Canova wants to emphasize that Perseus has strong power to kill Medusa through the precise carving of the muscles.
For the drapery, the cloth is draped around Perseus’s left arm. It falls all the way to the back of the sculpture. The line for the cloth creates a look of soft folding. Regarding Burghers of Calais, Rodin has a different focus on his sculpture in order to reach his goal. In the sculpture of six citizens, they wear their clothes that appear worn-out which identifies with poverty, the lowest class of the society and their tragic life. By the way, the old clothes seem to symbolize the poor citizens because they are the representatives who surrender in order to save all the people.
The lines in the robes of Rodin’s six burghers are long and softly accented. Because of the reflection of the sunlight, it creates the contrast between shadow and light which result in shining appearance that tends to suggest the idea that sculptures suggests the idea that these figures are luminous, a shining example of heroic citizens . Besides the shiny appearance, the contrast between reflected light and shadow creates the thick lines and thin lines, giving the drapery of the figures robes an appearance of heaviness.
This effect of heaviness suggests to us that those heroic citizens bear the heavy burden. In terms of size, although Perseus With The Head of Medusa and The Burghers of Calais are life size, the statues of Perseus is little bit larger than the each burgher figure. This suggests to the audience that the statue of Perseus is a god placed higher than the ordinary people. The bigger sculpture of Perseus means that every part of his body is tone and strong, as perfect as a god.
As for the burghers, the size of each burgher is average size of an actual person, which suggests that even though they are great men, they are real men in real world. They have no power to change their destiny which reflects the powerless of those burghers. The only option for them is to obey to their destiny. As for the placement, Perseus With The Head of Medusa and Burghers of Calais are different. First of all, Perseus is placed alone with Medusa’s head. He bears one foot on the ground and slightly turns his face to Medusa’s head which is on the left side.
It demonstrates how victorious he is after killing Medusa. Also, the audience can understand how powerful and brave he is because he cuts Medusa’s head off with his long sword. In the case of Burghers of Calais, it is made up of six sculptures. Two of them are on the left side. Four of them are on the right side. Each of them faces to different direction. This sculpture creates the anxious feeling to the audience because those six people do not know what the ending is for them. Thus, each of them looks at different directions, hoping someone will help them to get out the dangerous situation.
As the audience looks at this sculpture, they might worry about those six people’s future. Second, Perseus is placed on the pedestal. The audience has to look up as if they were looking up at the god or great men. It makes people feel respectful to that god as they look up. On the other hand, those high and large sculptures also are the mirror which reflects how humble the audience is as they stand in front of them. The sculpture of six burghers is placed on the ground. It makes the viewers easier to analyze the expression of six burghers.
So, the viewers can feel the desperation and hopelessness from their facial expression. Although those two sculptures have different styles and features which are outlook, deposition and measurement, they whisper the same message to the audience, trying to improve the society. Besides conveying message, it also records the important moment of the history and the myth. Perhaps sending message and recording historical events are just the surface of the iceberg. There are many more mysteries about the sculpture which need to be found.