Jules Dalou

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Biography of Jules Dalou ( 1838-1902 )

Born on the 31st December 1838, Aimé-Jules Dalouwas the son of a glove-maker worker. He showed very young a gift for modelling that caught Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux’s attention. At the age of 15, he joined the Fine Art School in Paris and became friend with Rodin.

Dalou distinguished himself by his talent and his tenacious character. As he wanted to finish his apprenticeship in Italy, he tried in vain to win the prestigious prize of Rome between 1861 and 1865. In order to earn his living and to have a new experience, he get employed on the great construction sites in the capital then under reorganization with the works of Baron Haussmann. That is how he participated in the sophisticated decoration of the Païva Hotel on the Champs-Élysées. He perfected his artistic education with the Fannière’s brothers, brilliant goldsmiths and jewelers from the Second Empire and the 3rd Republic. 

Dalou’s first public recognition occurred in 1870, during the Salon when the state bought him The embroiderer. But unfortunately, the Franco-German war began in July 1870. Dalou was very attached to the Republic and enrolled immediately to defend his motherland.

During the Paris Commune, Dalou was named by Gustave Courbet to be the curator of the Louvre Museum and protected its collections. He finally left Paris and found refuge in the sculptor Alexis André’s home in Montrouge before joining London with his wife and only daughter.

The first years in London were difficult and Dalou financially supported his family as a naturalist. Little by little he started sculpture again and realized intimate scenes. He managed to be recognized in England, and in 1877 he received an order for the public marble fountain Charity and also for a monument ordered by the Queen Victoria for her little children death in early infancy that still takes place in a chapel of the Windsor Castle. He became the leader of a new approach in sculpture, named “The New Sculpture”, combining sculpture and architecture.

On the 1st May 1874, the council of war of Mac Mahon’s government had sentenced, in absentia, Aimé-Jules Dalou to life hard labour. This was only on May 1879, after the amnesty of President Jules Grévy, the first real republican president, that Dalou and his family came back to France after eight years in London.

Dalou settled in Paris and began a wonderful career, realizing some of the most beautiful public monuments of the late 19th century, such as The Triumph of Republic ordered in 1879 by the Parisian town council for the current Place de la Nation. His major pieces are in Museums all over the world and also on Places in Paris, Bordeaux, Oran, Quiberon, Bourges, Auteuil or London.

Even if Dalou won recognition with his official creations, he also put his talent in intimate scenes. His predilection for mythological subjects, like bacchanalia or bather is the result of his admiration for the great masters of the 18th century like Houdon, Falconet and also Boucher.

The Petit-Palais Museum has among the pieces bought in Dalou’s studio in 1905, the same model as our sculpture but in plaster.

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