A very fine bronze with a nuanced dark brown patina
cast by VALSUANI
model created in 1918
a posthumous cast circa 1960
height 11 cm
length 21 cm
A similar model is reproduced in « François Pompon, 1855-1933 », C. Chevillot, L. Colas, A. Pingeot, Gallimard/Electa, RMN, 1994, page 191.
François Pompon (1855-1933) was known for his animal sculptures whose innovative style was characterized by the simplification of shapes and polished surfaces. Pompon entered as apprentice in the workshop of his father, Alban Pompon (1823-1907) who was a carpenter-cabinetmaking companion. Thanks to a scholarship obtained by the parish priest, he left in 1870 for Dijon where he became apprentice stonemason in a marble quarry. He attended evening classes at the School of Fine Arts in Dijon, first in architecture and engraving with Celestin Nanteuil, then sculpture with François Dameron (1835-1900) 1. After a short passage in the army in 1875, Pompon arrived in Paris where he became a marble worker in a funeral business near the Montparnasse cemetery. He attended evening classes at the Petite École, future National School of Decorative Arts. His teachers were the sculptors Aimé Millet (1819-1891) and Pierre Louis Rouillard (1820-1881), also professor of anatomy, who made him discover the menagerie of the garden of plants in Paris. In 1890, François Pompon entered the studio of Auguste Rodin (1840-1917), where he worked as a practitioner at the deposition of marble, rue de l'Université. He quickly gained the confidence of the master since he run the workshop in 1893. His role at that time was to transmit the accounts, pay the marbles and supervise the work. It was in this same workshop that he met Ernest Nivet and Camille Claudel. For a long time, he worked as a practitioner for other sculptors such as Jean Dampt in 1885, Antonin Mercié in 1888, Alexandre Falguière in 1890, and René de Saint-Marceaux from 1896 to 1914, as well as for Camille Claudel. Pompon was interested in the art of the Far East and he was deeply influenced by Japanism then in vogue at the time. He also admired Egyptian art exhibited at the Louvre Museum. His first known animal sculpture represented a stag beetle (1874).
The definitive choice of François Pompon to work only animals was taken in 1905, while the animal-subject was in the air, with the dissemination of the discoveries of primitive and prehistoric civilizations in journals such as The First Volume of albums Reiber (1877) and Artistic Japan (1888-1891), the universal exhibitions of Paris (1867, 1878 and 1889) and oriental animal bronzes brought to Paris by Henri Cernuschi in 1873. He then definitively decided to simplify the shape of his sculptures. He polished the surfaces and removed the details. During the First World War, René de Saint-Marceaux disappeared in 1915, and Pompon, too old to be mobilized, found himself without work. The animals of the garden of the plants having been cut down, Pompon must stop his activity of sculptor to live small trades: employee of Samaritaine in 1916, then worker in various workshops.
But it was not until 1922 that François Pompon became a belated celebrity by sending the Polar Bear to this year's Salon d'Automne, where his work contrasted with the modernism of the aesthetics of realistic sculpture inherited from the nineteenth century. The works of Pompon were published by the Hébrard Foundry until 1922. Then Pompon followed his head of workshop Claude Valsuani to whom he entrusted his models when he took over the foundry of his father at 74 rue des Plantes in Paris.
15 000 €