In 1908, the young Bourdelle rose to fame at the Monte-Carlo International Exhibition of Fine Arts with his bust of Beethoven. This Grande Baigneuse Accroupie, created the same year, belongs to the second period of his career, which saw him gradually move away from the influence of Rodin. In...
In 1908, the young Bourdelle rose to fame at the Monte-Carlo International Exhibition of Fine Arts with his bust of Beethoven. This Grande Baigneuse Accroupie, created the same year, belongs to the second period of his career, which saw him gradually move away from the influence of Rodin. Inspired by ancient sculpture, the style is somewhat starker and more stripped back, characterised by a need for order, harmony, and measuredness. “I avoided the trite, the accidental, and instead sought the permanent. I looked for the essence of structures, leaving the ephemeral waves in the background,” explained the artist. This sculpture represents a young nude woman, performing her ablutions beside a river. It was exhibited at the 4th Biennale de Sculpture de Monte-Carlo in 1993. It was cast posthumously.
Émile-Antoine Bordelles, better known as Antoine Bourdelle, was a French sculptor born in 1861, in Montauban. The son of a cabinet-maker, he won a scholarship to study at the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Toulouse in 1876, before enrolling at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris in 1884. After achieving official recognition at the Salon des Artistes Français in 1885, he set up a small studio in the 15th arrondissement of Paris, which would later become the Musée Bourdelle in 1949. In 1893, he began working in the studio of Auguste Rodin, thanks to whom he won his first commission for a monumental piece, the Monument aux Morts in his native town of Montauban. The two sculptors became close friends. Taking inspiration from Greek mythology, he created busts, bas-reliefs, and monumental sculptures: La Naissance d’Aphrodite at the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1900, the bas-reliefs on the façade of the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in 1910, and Héraklès archer at the Salon National des Beaux-Arts in 1910. In the twenties, he received important official commissions in Paris, Alsace, and Buenos Aires.
He also taught at his studio, where his pupils included Germaine Richier, Alberto Giacometti, and the Romanian sculptor Margaret Cossaceanu, whom he later took on as a collaborator. He died in 1929, in Le Vésinet near Paris.