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Antoine Bourdelle


(Montauban, 1861 - Le Vésinet, 1929)

Antoine Bourdelle

Born in Montauban (Tarn et Garonne) in 1861, Antoine Bourdelle discovered the sculpture in his father's workshop, a woodcarver. At the age of fifteen, he received a scholarship for the Academy of Fine Arts in Toulouse.

In 1884, he came to Paris and entered the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, in the studio of the sculptor Alexandre Falguière (1831-1900). He also receives advice from an other sculptor, Jules Dalou.
In 1885, he rented a studio in Montparnasse where he lives and works until his death: today is the Bourdelle museum. He participates for the first time at the Salon des Artistes Français.
From 1891, he exhibited at the Salon of the National Society of Fine Arts.
In 1888, the figure of Beethoven appeared, a motive that he will take again throughout his life.
To earn a living, he entered in 1893 as a practitioner in Rodin's studio: he stayed there for 15 years (until 1908) and a real friendship was established between the two men.

In 1895, he received from his hometown the command of the Monument aux Morts of Tarn-et-Garonne from 1870 (1897-1900).
First influenced by the art of Rodin, Bourdelle developed from the 1900s his own style, inspired by archaic Greece.
He rejuvenates the mythological themes: Tête d'Apollon (between 1900 and 1909), Pallas (1905), Herakles Archer (1909), Le Fruit (1902-1911), Penelope (1907-1912), Le Centaure mourant (1911-1914 ), Sappho (1887-1925), La Naissance d'Aphrodite (1924, colored stucco frieze for the top stage of the Opéra de Marseille).

In 1901, Pierre, son of Bourdelle and Stéphanie Van Parys, was born, whom Bourdelle married in 1904.
In 1906, Bourdelle met Cleopatra Sevastos, who became his wife in 1910 and gave him a daughter, Rhodia, in 1911.

His first solo exhibition will be held in 1905 at the Galerie Hébrard, rue Royale in Paris. That same year, he exhibited for the first time at the Salon d'automne.

From 1909, he gives courses at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière. Among his many students, he trained Alberto Giacometti, Germaine Richier, Vieira da Silva and Otto Gutfreund.

Named Knight of the Legion d'Honneur in 1909, he became an officer in 1919, commander in 1924. In 1910, the sculpture Hérakles archer earned him a huge critical and public success.
From 1910 to 1913, he participated in the decor of the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées.

He had a huge success at the Venice Biennale in 1914.

After the war, he executed many commissions for public monuments in France and abroad.
He participated in the creation of the Salon des Tuileries in 1923.
In 1925, he created a monumental statue of France (a cast on the forecourt of the Palais de Tokyo in Paris).

Bourdelle is also a magnificent portrait painter: Ingres (1908), Rodin (1909), Anatole France (1919), Auguste Perret (1922), Self-Portrait (1929) ...
In the last years of her life, Bourdelle experimented with polychromy, with sculptures such as the La Reine de Sheba and La Jeune Fille de La Roche-Posay.

Bourdelle died on October 1, 1929 in Vésinet, at his friend's house, the Fonderie Rudier.
His sculpture is marked by lyricism, monumentality and architectural character.

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