I was walking along Rambla Catalunya the other day when I looked up and saw a familiar face. It happened to be none other than The Thinker by Auguste Rodin the famous French sculptor. This particular sculpture which dates back to 1904 is one of Rodin’s most famous pieces and can be seen by everyone in Barcelona until 6th February.
This is all thanks to the Fundació La Caixa and you can see 6 other works of art along with the star piece by Rodin which are placed on Rambla Catalunya between Consell de Cent and Calle Diputació.These works of art, which come from the Rodin Museum in Paris have been previously exhibited in the Spanish cities of Seville, Malaga, Granada, Valladolid, Bilbao, Palma de Mallorca, Madrid and Valencia.
This key figure of modern sculpture was initially intended to be part of the sculptural group ‘Gate of Hell’ but eventually ended up becoming a separate subject and was moved to the Pantheon of Illustrious Men of Paris until 1922 when it was moved to its present location in the gardens of the Rodin Museum. Another great thinker was erected over the grave of the sculptor in the French town of Meudon, which is what is on display in Barcelona.
The other six pieces are for the Monument to the Burghers of Calais, which refers to one of the most famous historical episodes in the history of France, located in the middle of the Hundred Years War between England and France. In 1347, Edward III besieged the port of Calais in northern France, and declared that he would act with leniency if six-bourgeois notables would surrender to him in his shirt, his head and bare feet and a rope around his neck, with the keys to the city. Eustache de Saint-Pierre and five of his colleagues agreed to sacrifice their lives to save the city, but the queen interceded and obtained forgiveness.
After various attempts to build a memorial to the event, Auguste Rodin was commissioned in 1884 and among his first sketches shows a group of six heroes mounted on a pedestal however, administrative and political difficulties delayed the project, so during this time Rodin ended up removing the base of the statue.
The project was revived in 1893 and inaugurated two years later, but unfortunately it was placed on a pedestal in the centre of a small garden, the base did not disappear until after World War II as a sign of respect to the great French sculptor.