Tag Archives: Stanford University

The Burghers of Calais

Several years ago I visited the campus of Standord University in California. I was intrigued with these sculptures of Rodin. I have to admit I wasn’t familiar with the entire story behind them. Blogging is so educational!

These six men represent the Burghers of Calais (Les Bourgeois de Calais).

 

In 1885 the town council of the French city of
Calais commissioned Rodin to produce a
sculpture that would pay tribute to the
burghers of Calais, heroes of the Hundred
Years’ War and symbols of French patriotism.
~ ~ ~ ~
Rodin chooses to portray the moment in the
narrative when the men, believing they are
going to die, leave the city. He shows the
burghers as vulnerable and conflicted, yet
heroic in the face of their likely fate.

(Two excerpts from “THE STORY OF THE BURGHERS OF CALAIS”)

Most of the time, these men are portrayed in a cluster. Here on the Stanford campus, they are shown in separate bronze castings (1981). These were not from the original, however. By law, only a small number were made from the original after Rodin’s death. Here is a casting of Rodin’s signature.

 

Calais is an important French port on the English Channel. In 1347, during the Hundred Years’ War, Calais had been under siege for over a year by the English. Due to starvation, King Philip VI of France was not able to hold onto Calais. King Edward III of England said he would “spare the people of the city if any six of its top leaders would surrender themselves to him, presumably to be executed.”

Eustache de Saint-Pierre volunteered to be first. Five others followed.

 

They walked out wearing nothing but their “breeches” (underwear) with nooses around their necks. Jean Froissart (circa 1337-1400) wrote the story in his Chroniques that relate historical events of that era as he saw them.

The figure in the final monument portrays Pierre de Wiessant looking over his shoulder, his hand extended as if in despair. His face shows great anguish, and his intense emotions make him appear withdrawn from the other figures.
http://www.cantorfoundation.org/Rodin/Gallery/rvg34.html

 

As we confront Jean d’Aire, we find ourselves focusing on the self-absorbed quality of the figure and gradually, almost without our awareness, we come to realize that we are confronting the unheroic, complex human being that is ourselves. http://www2.davidson.edu/academics/acad_depts/art/facilities/jeandaire.html

 

Although Froissart does not mention Andrieu d’Andres in his Chroniques, the name of this man was uncovered in 1863. The figure is shown “already clutching his head in despair.” http://nga.gov.au/International/Catalogue/Detail.cfm?IRN=115165

 

Jacques de Wiessant was Pierre’s brother, and the fourth burgher to volunteer. Rodin gives his “his final gesture, the raised arm.” http://nga.gov.au/International/Catalogue/Detail.cfm?IRN=115165

 

Rodin assumed Jean de Fiennes to be the youngest of the six burghers. . . . The burgher’s expression is very doubting as if he has not quite accepted his seemingly imminent fate. http://www.cantorfoundation.org/Rodin/Gallery/rvg33.html

 

It was this moment, and this poignant mix of defeat, heroic self-sacrifice, and willingness to face imminent death that Rodin captured in his sculpture, scaled somewhat larger than life. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Burghers_of_Calais

 

Philippa of Hainault, England’s Queen, was expecting a child and she convinced her husband not to execute the men, claiming that “their deaths would be a bad omen for her unborn child.”

A remarkable incident in history – and a stunning set of sculptures for Stanford University, located in Memorial Court at the entrance to the Main Quad and Stanford Memorial Church.

For more of Rodin’s work, you might like to visit the Rodin Sculpture Garden, located off the Palm Drive entrance to Stanford University.

A hui hou!

Stanford Campus Addendum

 

I promise this will be the last post about the Stanford Campus, but there were so many beautiful sights there that I’m afraid I got carried away. For those of you who have never seen the campus, this will be something new. If you haven’t been there in a while, it will be a “remember when.”

Standing 285 feet high, the Hoover Tower (shown above) dominates the campus. It seems that no matter where you are, the Tower can be seen. President Herbert Hoover started a research center there and this tower is part of that institution.

I kept taking pictures of Hoover Tower, thinking each shot was better than the one before it. Here are only a couple of them for you.

 

Go here to see a great view of the campus from the Tower

Probably my enjoyment of the Stanford campus stems from my love of old buildings and homes, as well as campuses in general. The Old Fire Truck House (circa 1904) is one of those buildings full of character and still in beautiful condition.

 

The path in front of the Old Fire Truck House is such a luscious spot for sauntering – or biking.

 

Of course, there is a “new” fire truck house now, but it lacks the charm of the old one.

 

Near the Old Fire Truck House was this sign showing the way to the LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender) Community Resources Center and Women’s Community Center. I was pleased to see both of these.

 

These maps give you a good idea of the vast area of the campus. The first one shows where Stanford is located in the San Francisco Bay Area of California.

 

This map shows the specific area in Palo Alto that is Stanford property.

 

If you click on the second map, a larger image will enable you to see the location of the quad area I wrote about a few weeks ago and also where the Hoover Tower stands in relationship to the rest of the campus.

The campus includes not only the educational buildings, but the beautiful old faculty homes from the early 1950s. I could move right into any one of them with great ease.

 

I especially liked this one that reminds me of a fairyland castle. And I could just imagine sitting around a fireplace, discussing deep subjects with a few students.

 

Here is one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s creations that now is the property of Stanford. It was the home of the provost until 1989.

 

Because this is mostly a blog about gardening, I couldn’t ignore all the horticultural beauty on the Stanford Campus. Palm Drive is one of the most spectacular roads into the campus that I have ever seen. A long sweep of road lined with palms is truly an amazing sight.

 

Large areas of brilliant poppies and other fresh blooms were everywhere.

 

Of course, the outstanding medical facilities of Stanford are well-known. Here is the Stanford Advanced Medicine Center.

 

The entrance to the Stanford Hospital and Clinics is sleek and modern.

 

In spite of all the glittering modern buildings, in spite of the charming old buildings, Stanford is still a typical college campus. This sight made me feel right at home!

 

A hui hou!

A Trip Around the Stanford Quad

 

It seems that most large universities, as well as some smaller ones, have a “quad.” When I was a campus minister at University of Arizona, there was a massive quad where students and faculty hung out, played Frisbee, studied, slept, nuzzled with someone special, or whatever else they could find to do.

For an old college instructor like me, being on the quad of any school is thrilling. From the moment I first set foot in a classroom as a teacher, from kindergarten through university, I have loved teaching and being on a campus, being a part of campus life. I think I’d be deliriously happy just hanging out in a university library doing research in musty old tomes.

My visit to Stanford University (guided by a friend who is a Professor Emeritus from the Medical School there) included their quad. He added to my limited knowledge of the campus.

As we approached the main building of the quad, I was drawn to the floral arrangement in the center of the vast lawn.

 

It wasn’t until I stood a little elevated and distant from the floral arrangement that I realize the flowers created a large “S” for Stanford. I wondered if everyone else who visits miss it at first like I did.

 

Everything about the Stanford campus has history behind it. A walk along the corridor of the main building takes us back more than a century.

 

One of the stones on the floor of the corridor commemorated the centennial.

 

Each graduating class added a stone showing the year. This is the first one, laid by the graduating class of 1892!

 

You can walk along the corridor and see a class for every single year since then. A nice tradition!

 

And here is the latest one – for the class of 2009.

 

One of the pillars shows some of the damage done by the Loma Prieta earthquake of October 17, 1989, almost twenty years ago. You can read more about it here and here.

 

Other news articles discuss the donations and work done to renovate the Stanford campus . . .

 

. . .and how it looked 15 years later.

That last link has excellent pictures and history of the quake, including more information about the World Series that had to be cancelled that day. To read about damage that is more specific to Stanford, go here.

One dominating attraction on the quad is the Memorial Church

 

This chapel was built by Jane Lathrop Stanford in memory of her husband, Leland Stanford in 1899.

 

This close-up shows the intricate and exquisite mosaic artwork.

 

Due to regular church services being held, visitors were not permitted to enter, so I took many shots outside. I loved this sign in several languages.

 

The courtyard of the chapel offers areas to stroll, rest, meditate.

 

The jacaranda were in full bloom in the chapel courtyard.

 

So many tucked away treasures like these side doors of the church.

 

Every detail was considered, as evidenced by this mosaic floor in the foyer of the chapel.

 

I have included a slide show below of all photos I took around the chapel, many more than are in this post. Today, I end with a shot of these marvelous sculptures near the chapel. In a few weeks, I will do another post that shows the individual statues and who they represent.

 

A hui hou!

 

To watch a larger version of this slideshow, click here, then click on the large arrow.