Aimé-Jules DALOU (Paris, 1838-1902)


H. 21 cm. (8 ¼ in.)

C. 1900-1910
Bronze with nuanced brown patina.
Lost wax casting.
Signed on the terrace: DALOU
Founder’s stamp: Claude Valsuani.
Numbered 3/12.

• France, Private Collection.

Related Works

More finished version, plaster with patina, H. 42 cm. (16 ½ cm. Paris, Petit Palais, inv. PPS00334 (purchased from Georgette Dalou in 1905). This version was produced in bronze by Hébrard (contract between heirs of Hébrard and Dalou, December 31st, 1902, no 8) in marble, stoneware, and Sèvres biscuit-ware.

A single bronze proof, purchased by Henri Vever, jeweler, c. 1890, unknown founder (his sale, Paris, Georges Petit Gallery, February 1st, 1897, lot 183.)

Son of a glove worker, Aimé Jules Dalou was noticed at a young age by Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux, who enrolled him in the Petite Ecole (“Little School”) in 1852 and kept close track of his education. Two years later, Dalou joined Duret’s studio at the School of Fine Arts, but throughout his life considered Carpeaux his master. The young sculptor suffered under academic teaching at the Fine Arts School and quit very rapidly. He would, some thirty years later, refuse a professorial position which was offered to him there.

The beginnings of this sensitive young man who was lacking self-confidence were laborious. After four failures to win the Prix de Rome (1861 to 1865), he decided to live off of decorative sculpture, and produced models for a commercial bronze manufacturer. He subsequently worked for the Favière gold-and-silver smiths and the interior decorator, Lefèvre. Dalou produced large decorative works for the mansion of the Marchionness of Païva and the Hôtel Menier.

Jules Dalou met with his first success at the 1870 Salon with an Embroiderer. The State commissioned a marble version from him, but the Commune prevented him from finishing the undertaking, and led to the artist, his wife, and daughter to go into exile in England where he was warmly welcomed for ten years. Upon his definitive return to Paris in 1880, Dalou’s was increasingly successful with various Salon medals, and many public and private commissions.

Beside the image of a young mother which was highly appreciated by Dalou’s English patrons, the female nude who sometimes assumes a nymph’s features was one of the artists’s favorite subjects. During the last years of his life in particular, he developed it through numerous small vigorous studies in high relief in terracotta or plaster which he neither exhibited nor published during his life-time. Seeming to have produced them only for his own pleasure, Dalou kept them in his studio, and sometimes drew on this charming repertory of forms in the elaboration of his monuments.

Dalou only published a small number of works during his lifetime, but intended more extensive publication at the end of his life in order to assure a living for his daughter. Thus, in about 1890, he made a bronze entitled Nymph and Faun or The Kiss at the request of the jeweler Henri Vever. A very finished terracotta is conserved in the Petit Palais among other works the artist bequeathed to his daughter. Our bronze comes from a free sketch who current location is unknown. Furthermore, it is a Valuani casing, whereas the contracts for reproduction initiated by the artist’s heirs in 1903 right after his death were signed with Hebrard and Susse. Of the twelve examples cast by Valsuani, probably just before Dalou’s death and at his initiative, only two are known: the one we present, numbered 3, and the one numbered 1, in private hands.

M.B. & A.Z.
transl. chr

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