Jules-Aimé Dalou (1838-1902) was born in Paris on December 31st 1838. Dalou entered the Ecole des Beaux-Arts at the age of sixteen where he studied under Carpeaux and Duret, combining the richness and vivacity of the former with the academic purity and scholarship of the latter, to become one of the most versatile and outstanding French sculptors of the Nineteenth Century.
Dalou loved to sculpt genre scenes, often of women bathing, reading, sewing, nursing their children. He usually sculpted in plaster or terracotta, which allowed great freedom of expression. His influence on sculptors of the day, both in France and Britain, was immense and for many critics his works were easily the equivalent of his friend and contemporary, Rodin.
His debut at the Salon was in 1861 with Dame Romaine jouant aux Osselets. He found his long awaited success at the Salon of 1869, with his group of Daphnis et Chloé. He also did well at the Salon of 1870 where he received critical acclaim and a third class medal for Brodeuse and after this moved to England until 1883 with his family. Dalou was vehemently opposed to the monumental classicism under the Second Empire and he took an active part in the Paris Commune, fleeing to England with his wife and daughter after the collapse of the revolution.
He worked in London from 1871 to 1879, during which he taught sculpture at South Kensington school of art and influenced the trend in English sculpture of the late Nineteenth Century to greater humanism and a penchant for naturalism in domestic subjects. In 1877 he made a marble group, La Charité which was erected behind the London Stock Exchange, but replaced in 1897, and in 1878 he was working on a monument to the children who died young in the reign of Victoria, for the chapel at Windsor Castle.
Following Dalou’s return to Paris he secured many public commissions, the greatest of which was his Triomphe de la République,on which he worked for twenty years, now in the Place de la Nation. One of his most highly regarded pieces was a marble and precious stone table supported on the shoulders of two powerful male figures, now in the Museé des Arts Decoratifs.
Dalou also made cast bronze plaques for certain pieces of furniture but was not known as a furniture maker.
Kjellberg, Pierre Les Bronzes du XIX Siècle, Dictionnaire des sculpteurs, Editions de l’Amateur, (Paris) 1987, pps. 233-250.
Cooper, Jeremy 19th Century Romantic Bronzes, Newton Abbott, 1975.
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