Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

Rodin submitted this design for a public monument commemorating the defense of Paris during the Franco-Prussian War (1870–71). It was roundly rejected, which Rodin later attributed to its portrayal of violence: “Despite all my efforts, despite the life which, I believe, animates my group . . . I was not even considered. . . .[It] must have appeared too violent, too intense.”

The composition features a wounded soldier falling to the ground, gazing up at the Genius of War. Her wings, outstretched arms, and bare breasts recall ancient sculptures of Victory, while her Phrygian bonnet— a conical cap— alludes to the triumph of the French Revolution (1789–99) and symbolizes liberty. Though inspired by many precedents, Rodin’s group specifically recalls François Rude’s relief on the side of the Arc de Triomphe, March of the Volunteers of 1792 (La Marseillaise), 1833–36, which is also surmounted by a winged figure of war.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
1943.1138
People
Auguste Rodin, French (Paris, France 1840 - 1917 Meudon, France)
Title
The Call to Arms
Other Titles
Alternate Title: L'Appel aux Armes / La Défense
Classification
Sculpture
Work Type
sculpture
Date
1879
Culture
French
Persistent Link
https://hvrd.art/o/229826
Location
Level 2, Room 2100, European and American Art, 17th–19th century, Centuries of Tradition, Changing Times: Art for an Uncertain Age
View this object's location on our interactive map
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Bronze
Dimensions
114.9 x 27.9 x 32.4 cm (45 1/4 x 11 x 12 3/4 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • Signed: by left foot of soldier: A. Rodin
Provenance
[Scott & Fowles, New York, NY], sold; to Grenville L. Winthrop, 1923, bequest; to Fogg Art Museum, 1943.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Bequest of Grenville L. Winthrop
Accession Year
1943
Object Number
1943.1138
Division
European and American Art
Contact
am_europeanamerican@harvard.edu
THIS WORK MAY NOT BE LENT BY THE TERMS OF ITS ACQUISITION TO THE HARVARD ART MUSEUMS.
The Harvard Art Museums encourage the use of images found on this website for personal, noncommercial use, including educational and scholarly purposes. To request a higher resolution file of this image, please submit an online request.
Publication History

Léonce Bénédite, Rodin, F. Rieder & cie (Paris, France, 1926)

S. Lane Faison, Jr., A Guide to the Art Museums of New England, Harcourt, Brace and Co. (New York, 1958), p. 116; repr. p. 116, fig. 11

Ionel Jianou and Cecile Goldscheider, Rodin, Editions d'Art, Arted, Paris (Paris, France, 1967), p. 87, repr. pl. 37

John L. Tancock, The Sculpture of Auguste Rodin, David R. Godine and Philadelphia Museum of Art (Philadelphia, PA, 1976), p. 374

Exhibition History

32Q: 2100 19th Century, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

Google Art Project

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of European and American Art at am_europeanamerican@harvard.edu