Emile Antoine Bourdelle French, 1861-1929

Overview

Emile Antoine Bourdelle was one of the leaders of twentieth century monumental sculpture and was qualified by the iconic master Rodin himself as “a pioneer of the future”. Rodin became a great admirer of Bourdelle’s work, and in 1893 Rodin took him on as his assistant. He loved Bourdelle’s sculpture because of its personal nature and correspondence to his sensitive nature as well as his passionate and fiery temperament. The great philosopher Bergson admired Bourdelle's approach and his artistry:

 

What strikes me as soon as I look at one of your works is that each part seems to contain the whole. Isn't that the mark of perfection?”

 

Bourdelle thought of sculpture in monumental terms with a real understanding of scale and was committed to executing public works. His sculptures were built, almost architecturally constructed from the inside outwards. Bourdelle’s appreciation for structure and natural form, combined with classical heroic themes and a modern, personal innovation, reveal an inner strength and quality of rhythm and force.

 

As noted by the French painter Maurice Denis,

“…Whether a symbolist or an idealist Bourdelle created expressive geometric shapes and he told stories; he was a dramatist, a lyric, epic poet…he molded matter into whatever he wanted the world to hear, be it grief or joy, anguish or truth, was or peace.”.

Major Works

Spandrel reliefs for the portal of the Musée Grévin, Paris 1900

Monument aux Morts de Montauban, 1902

Freestanding gilded bronze Hercules the Archer, 1909

Decorative series of friezes executed for the exterior of Auguste Perret's Théâtre des Champs-Élysées (1913). Although the building itself is famously an early example of concrete construction, the friezes are marble.

Interior frieze at the Opéra de Marseille, framing the stage

Monument to Mickiewicz near the Pont de l'Alma in Paris, designed in 1909, realized in 1929

Two Angels on the Crypt at the War Memorial, Hartmannswillerkopf, for French architect Robert Danis, 1920s

Bronze Tympanum Pieta for the Église Notre-Dame du Raincy, designed in the 1920s, finally realized and dedicated in September 1999

Equestrian Statue of General Carlos María de Alvear, Recoleta, Buenos Aires

War Memorial, Capoulet-et-Junac

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