Aimé-Jules DALOU (Paris, 1838 - 1902)

Supplication, Study for Group on the Monument to Gambetta

H 31 cm. (12 316 in.)

Circa 1909.
Bronze with brown patina, lost wax casting.
Signed on the base DALOU.
Numbered (1) with founder’s mark: CIRE PERDUE A.-A. HEBRARD

Bibliography of the Work :

• Henriette CAILLAUX, Aimé Jules Dalou (1838-1902), preface by P. Vitry, Paris, 1935, p. 136, cat. 226 (terracotta), 226 bis (bronze).
• Amélie SIMIER and Marine KISIEL, Jules Dalou, le sculpteur de la République. Catalogue des sculptures de Jules Dalou conservées au Petit Palais, Paris, Musées, 2013, p. 421, cat. 343 (terracotta), 345 (bronze), p. 450, an. 5, no. 343, contrat 25.

General Bibliography:

• Maurice DREYFOUS, Dalou, sa vie et son œuvre, Paris, Laurens, 1903.
• Stanislas LAMI, Dictionnaire des sculpteurs de l’école française au XIXe siècle, Paris, 1914, vol. II.
• Pierre KJELLBERG, Les Bronzes du XIXe siècle. Dictionnaire des sculpteurs, Paris, 1989.

Related Works :

• Terracotta. Paris, Petit Palais, inv. PPS00335 (purchased from Georgette Dalou in 1905).
• Bronze edition: Hébrard-Dalou Heirs contract, January 31st, 1909, no 25 (2nd category: 10 proofs).

Son of a glove worker, Aimé Jules Dalou was noticed at a young age by Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux who persuaded him in 1852 to enter the Petite Ecole and who attentively followed his progress. Two years later, Dalou joined Duret’s studio at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, but all of his life considered Carpeaux as his master. The young sculptor suffered from the academic teaching at the Beaux-Arts and abandoned it rapidly. Some thirty years later, when a position of Professor was offered, he refused it.

This sensitive young man who lacked confidence in himself had a very difficult start. After failing four times for the Prix de Rome from 1861 to 1865, he devoted himself to earning a living with decorative sculpture. He made models for a manufacturer of commercial bronzes, and then worked for the Favière goldsmiths and the decorator Lefèvre. He realized important decorative works for the Marquise de Païva’s mansion, and then for the Hôtel Menier.

Jules Dalou had his first success at the 1870 Salon with an Embroiderer. The State commissioned a marble version, but the Commune prevented him from finishing the project, and caused the artist, his wife, and daughter to go into ten years of exile in England where he was warmly welcomed. Upon his definitive return to Paris in 1880, Dalou’s success continued to increase, with an assortment of medals at the Salon and numerous private and public commissions.

In addition to the image of the young mother which was highly appreciated by his English patrons, one of Dalou’s favorite subjects was the female nude. He especially developed it in his late years through many small free-standing terracotta or plaster studies which he neither exhibited nor published during his lifetime. Apparently having made them for his own pleasure, Dalou conserved them in his studio, and sometimes drew on this charming repertory of forms for the elaboration of his monuments.

Undated, Supplication, for which the original terracotta came from the artist’s studio stock and is conserved in the Petit Palais, could thus be compared with a set of studies for the Monument to Gambetta, and in particular, one of the allegorical groups framing the statesman’s figure. The international subscription for erecting the monument in the gardens of the Carrousel in Paris was opened the day after Léon Gambetta’s funeral and concluded two years later. Dalou’s project, realized in collaboration with the architect Louis-Lucien Faure Dujarric, was among six retained by the jury, which in the end preferred that of Jean-Paul Aubé and Louis-Charles Boileau. Known from photos, Dalou’s proposal was reused by the sculptor in 1900 when he received the commission for a monument financed by national subscription and destined for Bordeaux. Dalou replaced Gambetta’s bust with a full-length stature, but kept the two groups, including that which has striking similarities to Supplication.

Entitled Eloquence Slapping Imperialism in the 1884 project, this group becomes Wisdom Supporting Freedom in the monument for Bordeaux, even as it conserves the arrangement of the two figures, one standing and the other kneeling and collapsing. Much more expressive, our Supplication appears to be void of any complex allegorical connotation. A young nude woman is seated on a rock. She firmly entwines a man with long curly hair in her arms. He attempts to free himself from this embrace and turns his gaze away from the pleading face of his companion. The tense and unbalanced poses of the man and woman caught in a taut coiled movement like a spring are reinforced by vigorous modeling and a chaotic surface.

Dalou only published a tiny number of works during his life, but planned publication more seriously at the end of his life, in order to insure his daughter’s livelihood. Supplication was thus transposed to bronze by Hébrard and cast in ten examples, of which only five have been located today: number 2, conserved in the Pétit Palais, and three others in private collections. The work which we present bears the number 1, which corresponds to the first proof realized in the studios under the supervision of Dalou’s collaborators.

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

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