Pierre BOURET (1897-1972)


57 x 39 x 35 cm. (22 716 x 15 38 x 13 ¾ in.)

Plaster model which served for making a larger version.

YOUTH, first version, 1935-1938. This plaster was pointed with a compass in order to make the large stone sculpture which today is conserved in the National Veterinarians’ School in Toulouse, 114 x 75 x 60 cm. (44 78 x 29 ½ x 23 58 in.) FNAC 6334.

• Artist’s Collection and then by inheritance
• Sale of the studio, March 30th, 2018, Drouot, Crait-Müller, lot 139.

General Bibliography (Unpublished Work)
George WALDEMAR, Jeunes sculpteurs français, Paris, 1945, p. 22.
Frédéric CHAPPEY, “Le Sculpteur Pierre Bouret (1897-1972): ‘L’ouvrier du ciseau,’ disciple et ami de Charles Despiau,” Pierre Bouret. Sculptures : une collection de famille, catalogue de vente, Paris, Drouot, Crait-Müller, 30 March 2018, n.p.

“Architecture, my poetics,” was the motto of Pierre Bouret, one of the most remarkable makers of Parisian statuary during the Art Deco era.

The artist took sculpture for architecture courses at the Bernard Palissy School between 1910 and 1912, and then those at the Municipal Art Studios. The First World War interrupted his career: a volunterr in 1915, he was decorated with the Military Medal and the Cross of War and continued to serve in aeronautics in Indochina until 1923. Upon his return to Paris, Bouret encountered the famous sculptor Charles Despiau whom he henseforth considered his master and who also became a friend. Following his advice, the young sculptor signed up for advanced decorative arts courses given by Paul Follot for the City of Paris. Shortly after that, he entered one of the most famous foundries of the time, the Valsuani Foundry, as a wax retoucher and collaborated with well-known masters, such as Despiau, as well as Aristide Maillol, François Pompon, and Robert Wlerick.

In 1923, Bouret exhibited at the first Salon of the Tuileries, created in reaction to the more official Salons, such as that of the French Artists. He rapidly became Vice-President of the Salon of the Tuileries, and then responsible for the sculpture section. The artist was also a member of the Autumn Salons. The purchase of his works by the State, as well as a great many commissions for monuments and reliefs beginning in 1932 are evidence of his growing fame which also made it possible for him to participate in the retrospective One Hundred Years of French Sculpture organized in Amsterdam and Brussels in 1940. In 1935, Bouret won the prestigious Viking prize for Reclining Figure, a nude in stone from Euville which was exhibited the following year at the Tuileries and acquired by the Petit Palais Museum.

The sculptor liked to define himself as a “stone cutter,” and had a keen sense of this difficult demanding substance. Georges Waldemar wrote admiringly in 1940,

“Bouret shows his measure when out of this rough medium, he releases reliefs of nude swimmers whose bodies rise out of empty grounds. There is something rough in these forms of young girls whose impetus is catching. Bouret rejects virtuosity. His art dominates through purely artisanal virtues. No one more than this virile sculptor merits the enviable title, of chisel worker.”

But although stone was the medium which best expressed the sculptor’s massive powerful style, he also mastered other techniques and had perfect knowledge of bronze casting. Often stone was just one stage in working on a sculptural theme which Bouret interpreted in terracotta, plaster, marble, or bronze, as if he wished to exhaust all his expressive possibilities.

As in the Reclining Figure, Youth is one of the works which came out of the artist’s study of the female body which were inspired by his first wife, Yvonne, known as “Edmée,” who died in 1934. Bouret conceived this sculpture in the middle of the 1930s as can be seen by the plaster Study for Youth which establishes the composition but has an angular elongated figure. The sculptor then produced two versions from it. The unclothed First Version was made in about 1935-1938 on a scale of 57 cm. Our plaster was pointed with a compass in order to make the large stone sculpture exhibited at the Salon des Tuileries, and then acquired by the State for the Museum of Modern Art of the City of Paris, and on loan since 1963 to the National Veterinarians’ School in Toulouse (114 x 75 x 60 cm. / 44 7/8 x 29 ½ x 23 5/8 in. FNAC 6334).

The clothed Second Version of Youth was made later, as it dates to 1942 and was about 40 cm. high. A marble, three bronze proofs and one terracotta edition exist of it.

Athletic and serene, but at the same time, sensual, the young woman with a Greek Kore smile marvellously incarnates Bouret’s poetic architecture. Its rough plaster surface is already remniscent of stone, as it catches and absorbs light giving the figure an almost mineral appearance.

transl. chr

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