The much awaited exhibition Dalou : The Sculptor of the Republic is the first-ever monographic exhibition devoted to Jules Dalou (1838–1902). Its aim is to restore the artist to his rightful place – alongside Rude, Carpeaux and Rodin – in the extraordinary upsurge that saw French sculpture lead the world in the 19th century.
Born into a Paris family of modest means, Dalou began his career under the Second Empire (1852–1870), but saw it come to a halt with the Franco-Prussian war of 1870 and his participation in the Paris Commune uprising of 1871.
Driven into exile in London, he was much appreciated on the art scene there before a general amnesty allowed him to return to France in 1879. The City of Paris then commissioned his most famous work, The Triumph of the Republic: espousing the aesthetics of the Revolution, this masterpiece, now on the Place de la Nation in Paris, was the first of a long series of monuments designed by Dalou for the French capital.
At the same time, like all the recognised sculptors of the period, he provided busts and decorative works for a private clientele.
Some three hundred works will be on show at the Petit Palais: sculptures, of course, but also paintings, drawings, photographs and documentary material – for the most part never exhibited before – that add up to an unrivalled overview of Dalou’s output and the evolution of his career. The majority of the sculptures come from the artist’s studio collection, acquired by the City of Paris in 1905, and are rounded off by loans from public and private collections in France and elsewhere. Here we are given a fascinating insight into the different stages of producing monuments and the «studio secrets» of a 19th-century artist.
At the Musée Cognacq-Jay a second, parallel exhibition, Dalou: Focus on the 18th Century, brings together some thirty of his works freely inspired by the 18th century in France. Shown alongside pieces by such other artists as Pigalle, Lemoyne, Houdon and Clodion, they demonstrate the way Dalou, although a convinced Republican, reinterpreted the heritage of the final century of the Ancien Régime.
The exhibition accompanies the publication of the Catalogue des oeuvres de Dalou conservées au Petit Palais, edited by Amélie Simier (Paris-Musées Editions).
Curators: Cécilie CHAMPY, Conservateur du patrimoine, Amélie Simier, conservateur en chef et directrice des musées Bourdelle et Zadkine.
Curator museum Cognacq-Jay: Benjamin COUILLEAUX, conservateur du patrimoine
And also, Dalou, regards sur le XVIIIe siècle au musée Cognacq Jay