Born in Paris on December 31, 1838, Dalou died in the same city on April 15, 1902. He studied under Carpeaux and Duret, combining the richness and vivacity of the former with the academic purity and scholarship of the latter, and became one of the most versatile and outstanding French sculptors of the 19th century.
Dalou was vehemently opposed to the monumental classicism which dominated sculpture under the Second Empire and along with other artists of a kindred feeling, boycotted the official Salon from 1861 onwards, exhibiting instead at the so-called Salon des Refuses. He took an active part in the Paris Commune and fled to England after the collapse of the revolution. He worked in London from 1871 to 1879 when he was amnestied by the French Republic. During his period in England he taught sculpture at South Kensington and influenced the trend in English sculpture of the late 19th century towards greater humanism and a penchant for naturalism in domestic subjects. To this period belongs his French Peasant Woman, later edited in Bronze and erected under the guise of Maternity outside the Royal Exchange London.
Following his return to Paris Dalou secured many public commissions, the greatest of which was his Triumph of the Republic, on which he worked for twenty years. Ironically this highly elaborate group, in the Pace de la Nation, is redolent of the florid symbolism which characterizes sculpture in the reign of Louis XIV and was a t variance with Dalou’s earlier work. His last work was the monument to Leon Gambetta for the town of Bordeaux, (1901) and it likewise embodied all the symbolic grandeur of an earlier epoch. By the end of the century the rebel of the earlier years had become the very keystone of the Establishment. He was an Officer of the Legion of Honor and winner of the medal of honor at the Grand Prix at the Exposition Universelle of 1889. He was founding member of the Societe Nationale des Beaux Arts in 1890. His work covered a very wide range of sculpture and includes bas0reliefs and friezes, maquettes and individual figures or groups from these monuments were also edited as bronzes. He also produced numerous bronze statues and busts of contemporary personalities such as Blanque, Victor Noir, Lavoisier, Charcot, Loze, Albert Wolff, and Floquet, neo-classical groups such as Nessus lifting up Deianeira, the Guardian Anger, and genre figures such as the embrace, The Rocking Chair, The Bather, and Head of a Sleeping Child.
Biography courtesy of Frances Aronson Fine Art, LLC