Rodin studied at the Ecole Imp_riale Sp_ciale de Dessin et de Math_matiques (which later became the Ecole Nationale sup_rieure des Arts D_coratifs). In 1875, he traveled to Italy, where he was inspired by the great artworks by Michelangelo and others. A major retrospective of Rodin’s works was held at the Paris Universal Exposition of 1900. Based on keen observation, Rodin produced works accompanied with movement and a sense of life, which had a significant influence on later sculptors.
In 1884, Rodin was commissioned by the city of Calais to create a monument, The Burghers of Calais. It was intended as a public commendation for the historical fact dating back to the fourteenth century in which the citizens were saved by six envoys who headed to the enemy when the British troops had besieged the city and it was about to surrender. The committee planning the construction wanted a statue of the leader Eustache de Saint-Pierre’s brave departure. However, Rodin abolished the conventional image of a monument by proposing a group of six statues overflowing with tragic heroism. In spite of fierce opposition from the committee, Rodin is said to have stuck to this idea to the very end. This bronze is a study for Eustache de Saint-Pierre’s head. His sharply defined expression reveals his anxiety and terror of the precarious departure.