Bronze with nuanced dark brown patina
cast by Susse Frères - stamped with the founder's seal
late 19th c.
height 12,5 cm
A similar model reproduced in "Jules Dalou, le sculpteur de la République", Exhibition held at the Musée du Petit Palais, Paris, 2013, page 293, n°227.
Aimé-Jules Dalou, said Jules Dalou (1838-1902) was a French sculptor, born from Protestants glovers craftsmen who raised in secularism and love of the Republic. Jules Dalou was very young talented for modeling and drawing, which earned him the attention of Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux, who made him entered in 1852 in the Little School, the future National School of Decorative Arts in Paris. In 1854, he was admitted to the School of Fine Arts in Paris, where he studied painting in the workshop of Abel de Pujol and sculpture in the workshop of Francisque Duret. He began to earn his living by working for decorators, and began his friendship with Auguste Rodin. Dalou then produced decorative sculptures for buildings on major Parisian avenues, such as the Hotel de la Paiva, on the Champs-Elysees Avenue. He presented but failed four times to Rome prize competition, but exhibited at the 1869 Salon his "Daphnis and Chloe" and the "Embroiderer" at the Salon of 1870, two pieces acquired by the French state. Dalou had one child, Georgette, a girl born with a mental handicap. This is to ensure funding for her daughter's life accommodation in the Orphanage of Arts, that Dalou bequeathed the funds from his workshop to this institution.
After the bloody week of May 1871 Dalou, his wife and their daughter were threatened as Communards, forced into exile and requested asylum. They then joined England and were greeted by his former fellows of the Little School, the painter Alphonse Legros. With Legros, much introduced in the City, he made a serie of terracotta statuettes inspired by boulonnaise peasants or intimate subjects (readers, lullabies), and portraits of the English aristocracy. He became professor for modeling at the National Art Training School, his influence was decisive for many British sculptors. He received orders for a public fountain in marble titled "Charity" (1877) near the Royal Exchange in London, and a monument dedicated to Queen Victoria's grandchildren located in the private chapel of Frogmore at Windsor Castle.
In May 1874, the Paris War Council condemned him in absentia to hard labor for life. Having refused to beg for mercy, Dalou was only in May 1879 being granted amnesty and his family finally returned from exile. His group "The Triumph of the Republic", originally planned for the Place de la Republique in Paris, was finally erected on the Place du Trône, renamed Place de La Nation in 1880. Dalou devoted twenty years to the realization of this monument. The years 1881 and 1882 were difficult, but the 1883 Salon finally revealed him to the French public. He exhibited his two high reliefs: "The Brotherhood of Peoples" and "Mirabeau answering Dreux-Brézé", for which he was awarded the Medal of Honor. Fleeing the world and living in family, Dalou engaged in considerable work and many orders both private and public. For the Universal Exhibition of 1889, was inaugurated on the Place de la Nation the plaster of "The Triumph of the Republic" commissioned by the city of Paris in 1879. Although the bronze version of the group was inaugurated in 1899, this work won the grand prize for sculpture in the exhibition. Dalou left the French Society of Artists in 1890 to expose at the National Society of Fine Arts, of which he was a founding member with Ernest Meissonier, Auguste Rodin and Pierre Puvis de Chavannes. Awarded Knight of the Legion of Honor in 1883, and promoted to officer by President Carnot in 1889, he was elevated to the rank of Commander of the same order in 1899 by President Loubet at the inauguration of the monument of "The Triumph of the Republic".
Dalou had no time to complete his last great project, a monument dedicated to workers, the idea came to him in 1889 after the first opening of "TheTriumph of the Republic". The formality of the ceremony and military parades held the people away from the official event. Dalou was disappointed. True to its republican ideals, he had hoped that this inauguration was an opportunity of great popular democratic party (as it was at the inauguration of the bronze in 1899). His idea was then to pay tribute to the world of workers, craftsmen and peasants with this work being the central subject. At the end of his career Dalou described the project as follows: "I think I have finally found the monument to the workers that I seek since 1889. Sober, without molding or ornament, I wish it'd be severe and imposing. Will I execute it? There is the question. I am old and my health is so weak."
The numerous sketches of the monument found in his studio after his death are now preserved in the Musée du Petit Palais in Paris. The statue of the Great Peasant (around 1897 to 1902, Paris, Musée d'Orsay) prefigures the characters he planned to place in the sixteen niches surrounding the column, a monument of 32 meters high.