Sculpture in bronze with a nuanced greenish dark brown patina
A similar model is reproduced in « Joseph Bernard », Fondation de Coubertin, page 311, n°185.
height : 63,5 cm
Joseph Bernard (1866-1931) was a French sculptor. He was the son of a stonemason, and learnt to work stone and marble in his youth. He acquired a classical training at the School of Fine Arts in Lyon in 1881, then at the School of Fine Arts in Paris where he entered in 1887 in the studio of Jules Cavelier. He neglected education somewhat, working in a printing house at night and sculpting the day. He admired Auguste Rodin, his youth work proved it, but did not work for him. He dedicated his time to clay sculptures: "Hope Vanquished" in 1891, "The Burden of Life", Monument to Peace of which only fragments remain. His first public commission was the Monument to Michel Servet for his native city of Vienne, in Isère, built between 1905 and 1911.
Little by little, Bernard decisively freed himself from Rodin's influence for an ever more sober way, renouncing all realistic detail. Known by an exhibition in 1908, Bernard was one of the only French sculptors exhibited at the Armory Show in New York in 1913 and a retrospective was devoted to him at the Salon d'Automne in 1911. Perfect incarnation of the post-Rodinian reaction, he pioneered an independent path between the expressionism of Antoine Bourdelle and the classicism of Aristide Maillol.
It was a very productive period where figures of young girls were modeled in plaster and then polished like a stone. J. Bernard made statues very stylized, smooth, synthetic modeling. He also produced modeled works for bronze cast, such as "The Girl with the Pitcher" in 1910, and "The Woman with the Child". In 1913 he sculpted a marble bas-relief, one of his masterpieces: "The Frieze of Dance", but he was struck by a cerebral congestion that left him hemiplegic and slowed down his activity. He only started drawing again in 1917 and carving in 1918.
Joseph Bernard settled in Boulogne-sur-Seine in 1921 in the studio he owned in the garden of his house. He was present in 1925 at the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative Arts and Industrial alongside François Pompon and Roger Reboussin in the Pavilion Ruhlmann, a close friend, with many bronze works as well as an enlarged version of "La Frise de la Danse". He received orders from the state, and at the end of his life devoted himself to drawing and watercolor.