The starting point for this sculpture was a public competition launched in 1879 for a monument to commemorate the defence of Paris during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. Auguste Rodin submitted a composition of uncompromising narrative and stylistic force. Judging his proposal too daring, the jury turned it down in favour of a more traditional composition. At the end of 1899, Rodin enlisted the aid of the foundry owner Léon Perzinka to render it in bronze. By that time famous, Rodin was preparing the retrospective of his work that would run concurrently with the Exposition universelle of 1900 in Paris, for which this particular example of the work was intended. Acquired by the Austrian collector Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer in 1901, The Defence was seized by the Nazis with the intention of incorporating it in the collection of the future Führermuseum Hitler had planned for Linz. It was restored to its rightful owners after the war, and thus made its way to Canada.