Antoine-Augustin Préault

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Auguste Preault by Nadar Antoine-Augustin Preault.jpg
Auguste Préault by Nadar

Antoine-Augustin Préault (October 6, 1809 – January 11, 1879) was a French sculptor of the "Romantic" movement. Born in the Marais district of Paris, he was better known during his lifetime as Auguste Préault.



A student of David d'Angers, Préault first exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1833. He was not favorably looked upon by some of the artistic community's elite due to his outspokenness and because he was part of the circle of activists who participated in the French Revolution of 1830. During that period of turmoil, Préault's studio was vandalized and many of his plaster models were destroyed. As a result of these circumstances his work has been largely overshadowed by his contemporaries. [1]

David dAngers French sculptor and medallist

Pierre-Jean David was a French sculptor, medallist and active freemason. He adopted the name David d'Angers, following his entry into the studio of the painter Jacques-Louis David in 1809 as a way of both expressing his patrimony and distinguishing himself from the master painter.

July Revolution July 1830 revolution in France

The French Revolution of 1830, also known as the July Revolution, Second French Revolution or Trois Glorieuses in French, led to the overthrow of King Charles X, the French Bourbon monarch, and the ascent of his cousin Louis Philippe, Duke of Orléans, who himself, after 18 precarious years on the throne, would be overthrown in 1848. It marked the shift from one constitutional monarchy, under the restored House of Bourbon, to another, the July Monarchy; the transition of power from the House of Bourbon to its cadet branch, the House of Orléans; and the replacement of the principle of hereditary right by popular sovereignty. Supporters of the Bourbon would be called Legitimists, and supporters of Louis Philippe Orléanists.

Antoine-Augustin Préault died in Paris in 1879 and was interred in the Père Lachaise Cemetery.

Père Lachaise Cemetery Cemetery in Paris, France

Père Lachaise Cemetery is the largest cemetery in Paris, France. With more than 3.5 million visitors annually, it is the most visited necropolis in the world.

Silence (1842), Pere Lachaise Cemetery, Paris Preault - Le Silence - Robles 02.jpg
Silence (1842), Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris

The fever of poetry, the drunkenness of beauty, the horror of vulgarity, and the madness of glory possessed and tormented Préault

Words of nineteenth century critic describing Préault's work.


Before this retrospective, Préault's work had fallen into oblivion, three masterpieces excepted: Tuerie (The Killing) (Musée des Beaux Arts, Chartres), Ophelia (Musée d'Orsay) and the Christ in the Eglise Saint Gervais.

The exhibition therefore allowed the public to discover anew the great aspects of his work: subjects inspired by literature (Ophelia, Dante, Virgil) ; portraits and medallions (Delacroix) ; funeral sculpture (Silence), which draws its strength from its atemporality ; and such public commissions as the statue of Clemence Isaure in the Jardin du Luxembourg. By the sheer violence of his subjects, the novelty of his compositions and the spirit of his art, Préault may well deserve, as far as sculpture is concerned, the accolade of the greatest poet of unhappiness

Comments by Musée d'0rsay at time of exhibition held on Preault's work. [3]

Préault is buried in the Pere Lachaise cemetery. [4]


Medallion of Virgile Musée d'Orsay
1855This bas-relief won Préault the Prix de Rome for sculpture in 1855.
Plaster medallion depicting Paul Huet Musée d'Orsay
1869Huet was an accomplished French painter and Préault executed this medallion featuring Huet in profile in around 1869. The work was later cast in bronze and used on Huet's tomb in the Montparnasse cemetery. The plaster model is held in the collections of the Musée d'Orsay. Until 1985 it had been held by the Huet family before being given to the museum.


Medallion depicting Eugène Delacroix Musée du Louvre département des Sculptures
1864Préault executed several medallions and many of these are held by the Musée du Louvre département des Sculptures.


Medallion depicting Sara Stephann Musée du Louvre département des Sculptures


Medallion depicting Dr.Devarennes Musée du Louvre département des Sculptures
1838Devarennes was a doctor practicing at the Paris Hôpital de la Charité.


Medallion depicting Jean-Barthélémy Hauréau Musée du Louvre département des Sculptures
Préault's executed this bronze medallion depicting the French historian Jean-Barthélémy Hauréau. Hauréau was also the curator of the Bibliothèque nationale and a director of the Imprimerie nationale then a director of the Thiers foundation.


Medallion depicting Dr.Arthur de Beauvoisy Musée du Louvre département des Sculptures


Medallion depicting Christophe Pittermann Musée du Louvre département des Sculptures
The date this bronze medallion was executed is not known.


Head of a young manMusée du Château de Blois
1869This bronze Préault medallion depicting the "Tête de jeune homme" dates to 1869.


Medallion depicting LeliaMusée du Château de Blois
1850Bronze medallion.


Medallions depicting Auguste Vacquerie and Maximilien de Robespierre Musée des Beaux Arts, Lille
This museum holds medallions depicting Auguste Vacquerie the French journalist and man of letters, and Maximilien de Robespierre

[14] [15] It also holds a medallion depicting Thomas Shotter Boys. [16]

Tomb of Charles-Michel de l'Épée Paris
Preault executed sculptural work for the tomb of Charles-Michel de L'Épée in the église Saint-Roch in Paris. The tomb is located in the chapel of St Suzanne.
La Mendicité
1839 [17]
Vénus et le Sphinx/Jupiter et le SphinxChâteau de Fontainebleau
1870These two works were commissioned for the garden of the Château de Fontainebleau.

[18] [19]

Croix de chemin Ingouville
1861Préault executed this depiction of Christ on the cross. The figure of Christ is in bronze and the cross limestone. [20]
The tomb of the actor Rouvière
Préault's medallion was used on the tomb of the French actor Philibert Rouvière. [21]
Église Saint-Joseph-des-CarmesParis
For this Paris church, Préault carved a high-relief in wood depicting two angels on either side of a medallion. This church is located at 70 rue de Vaugirard in the 6th arrondissement.
Bust of Nicolas Poussin Amiens
Préault's marble bust of Nicolas Poussin can be seen in the musée de Picardie in Amiens.


"Cavalier gaulois" on the Pont d'Iéna Paris
1853This limestone sculpture is one of four equestrian statues on the bridge. The others are a Roman warrior by Louis-Joseph Daumas, an Arab warrior by Jean-Jacques Feuchère and a Greek warrior by François Devault.
The tomb of Jacob RoblèsParis
The sculptural work on this tomb is amongst the most remarkable in the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris and features the composition "Le Silence"


The Institute of Chicago wrote

The rounded known as Le Silence was created for the tomb of Jacob Robles [1782-1842] in the Jewish section of the Parisian cemetery Pere Lachaise. Abandoning traditional funerary imagery, Auguste Préault fashioned an enigmatic and mysterious evocation of death in the skeletal face which is shrouded in drapery with a finger touching the lips. In part the image drew upon the traditional monastic symbol for silence in the cloisters, but here the sculptor also conveys a sense of ambiguity by leaving open whether the figure is living or dead. When Préault exhibited a bronze cast of Le Silence in 1849, it was hailed as "one of the representative works of modern art" and became an icon of Romanticism


Église St-Gervais-et-St-Protais Paris
This Paris church dates back to 1212 and Préault was the sculptor of the church's statue of Saint Gervais. He also sculpted the figure of Christ in the chapel containing the baptismal fonts. It was at this church that a German shell, fired by the long-range "Paris Gun", fell on 29 March 1918 killing 88 people and wounding 68 others; the explosion collapsed the roof when a Good Friday service was in progress. This was the worst single incident involving a loss of civilian lives during the German bombardment of Paris in 1918. Among those killed was Rose-Marie Ormond Andre-Michel, the niece and a favorite model of John Singer Sargent.


This church is located in the rue Saint-Antoine in the "Marais" district of Paris. The church contains many fine sculptures including a statue of St Catherine by Préault.


Fragment épisodique d'un grand bas-relief
Musée des Beaux-Arts de Chartres

This controversial bronze bas-relief by Préault is held in the Musée des Beaux-arts in Chartres. Tuerie means slaughter and in this stark composition, Préault leaves little to the imagination. [27] [28]

Monument to the Morin-Chalon FamilyParis
Préault executed a medallion for this family grave in the Père Lachaise Cemetery.

[29] Préault depicts the head of a woman whose hand covers her face in a stark portrayal of grief.

"Vague" Dijon 1856This terracotta composition by Préault is thought to date to 1856 and is in fact the only terracotta model of Préault's still surviving. This work is held in Dijon's Musée Magnin.

[30] Préault depicts an ondine. It seems that ondines or water-sprites were a popular subject for the writers of "littérature fantastique" and Paracelsus made reference to them in his writings on alchemy. In European folklore they are depicted as fairy-like creatures.

Medallion depicting Théodore Géricault Rouen
This Préault work depicting the French painter Théodore Géricault is held in the Musée des Beaux Arts of Rouen.


Medallion depicting Aulus Vitellius Toulouse
This bronze medallion is held in Toulouse in the Musée des Augustins. Aulus Vitellius Germanicus Augustus was Roman Emperor from 16 April to 22 December 69.


Medallion for the Tomb of Adam Mickiewicz Paris

This composition by Préault is held in the Bibliothèque Polonaise in Paris. [33]

Statues in the gardens of the Château de VersaillesChâteau de Versailles
Préault was commissioned to sculpt statues of André Le Nôtre the gardener, and Jules Hardouin-Mansart the architect, for the Château de Versailles gardens. Hardouin-Mansart was one of the most important European architects of the seventeenth century and much favoured by Louis XIV. Le Nôtre was Louis XIV"s favourite gardener and was responsible for the design and construction of the Palace of Versailles parkland. His work represents the height of the French formal garden style, or "jardin à la française".
Work on the façade of the LouvreParis
At the two extremities of the façade of the Henri IV and Henri I1 wings in the Louvre's Napoléon courtyard are two large sculptural groups executed by Préault between 1856 and 1857. [34] [35] The works are allegories of War and Peace. Also in the so-called "New Louvre" and the Henri II wing of that building there is a statue of André Chénier. [36] [37] Chénier was a French poet much associated with the events of the French Revolution. He was guillotined for alleged "crimes against the state", near the end of the Reign of Terror

[38] [39] Finally in the Pavilion de la Bibliothèque is Préault's composition "Les Arts" [40] [41] Préault had been commissioned to design a three-figure allegorical grouping for the Pavilion de la Bibliothèque and he created groups of angels with the theme of the arts and sciences. On the left, an angel twirls a giant sash in a parabolic arch: an ingenious tribute to Mathematics. At the angel’s feet, a pair of cherubs twist to gaze upward at him, one with a long parchment scroll of Architecture draped across his lap. The other plays Music with a lyre, while a mask for Theatre rounds the angle of the plinth ornamented with the spherical astrolabe of Astronomy. The crown in the hand of the brawny angel on the right is Physics, Préault recalling Archimedes’ experiment in buoyancy to test the gold content of King Hiero’s crown. The palm branch waving triumphantly in the angel’s other hand symbolizes Grammar, while at his feet is Geometry, a grinning cherub with a compass. His counterpart, holding palette and brushes, portrays Painting, while Sculpture is evoked by the fine feminine profile medallion on the plinth. An 1857 critic lauded Préault’s génies—the French term for angels on civic buildings—as "having nothing of that charming preciousness of those of the 18th century: they are strong and dense children, as a well-grounded art could form them: they dare to have muscles and stand out in vigorous contours against the sky." [42]

Works in the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Washington
1856There are two Préault works in this museum in Washington, United States. One is a medallion featuring "Rachel" and a second bronze medallion depicts Harriet Smithson [43]
Sculpture of Mary MagdaleneParis
Préault was responsible for the carving of Mary Magdalene in the La Madeleine. Mary is kneeling before some relics. An interesting observation by Préault on the "cult of the relic" popular amongst French intellectuals at the time.

[44] [45]

Clémence Isaure Paris
1843Préault was the sculptor of the statue of Clémence Isaure in the Jardin de Luxembourg in Paris. This was one of a series of sculptures entitled "The Queens of France and Famous Women" comprising 20 marble sculptures arranged around a large pond in front of the Palais du Luxembourg. Louis-Philippe I himself chose the women to be portrayed and most of the sculptures were commissioned around 1843 and for around 12,000 francs each. They were exhibited in the Paris Salons of 1847 or 1848. The musée du Louvre holds a bronze version of the work, cast by Thiebault.

[46] [47] [48] [49]

Jacques Coeur Bourges
Préault was the sculptor of the statue of Jacques Coeur in Bourges.

[50] [51]

Statue of François Séverin Marceau Chartres, place des Epars1845 [52]
Ondine Beaune This bronze work by Préault is located in the Beaune Musée des Beaux-Arts. The museum wrote:-

This sculpture taken from contemporary literature was placed in the Bouzaise Park in Beaune until 1996. At the government's request it was put back in the museum after having been exhibited at the Musée d'Orsay in a one-man exhibition of the sculptor's work. The work is extremely interesting and original. The general movement in a spiral, the violence between the opposition of the position of shoulders and hips, all combine to give this figure a feeling of unrest


Opheliemusée d'Orsay

Ophelia is shown drifting lifeless on the water. With closed eyes and parted mouth, she escapes the stiffness of death. The waves intermingle with the folds of the wet sheet wound around the girl, emphasising the curve of her limbs. Designed like a funerary plaque from the Middle Ages or the Renaissance, the sculpture is nonetheless presented as a picture. Its sad, poetic mood is typical of the Romantic artists' reading of the work of the English playwright

Extract from Musée d'Orsay article. [54]

This plaster relief, subsequently cast in bronze by Thiebaut, dates to 1876. It was turned down by the Paris Salon of 1849 but accepted and shown in 1850-1851. Purchased by the French State in 1876, the work was subsequently deposited in the musée de Saint-Florentin in Yonne in 1879 but destroyed during the Second World War. The musée d'Orsay holds the original plaster model of this work. [55]

Medallion depicting Dante muséee d'Orsay
1852This Préault work dates to around 1852 and it was cast in bronze by Eck and Durand. Dante is shown in high-relief and on the medallion Préault includes the words


h.g. : DANTE / ALIGHIERI / NE : A / FLORENCE / 1265 / MORT / 1321

The Musée d'Orsay hold Préault's plaster model. [56]

Statue of Sainte Valère in the église Sainte ClotildeParis
Chartres Prefecture and commune in Centre-Val de Loire, France

Chartres is a commune and capital of the Eure-et-Loir department in France. It is located about 90 km (56 mi) southwest of Paris. Chartres is famous world-wide for its cathedral. Mostly constructed between 1193 and 1250, this Gothic cathedral is in an exceptional state of preservation. The majority of the original stained glass windows survive intact, while the architecture has seen only minor changes since the early 13th century. Much of the old town, including the library associated with the School of Chartres, was destroyed by bombs in 1944.

Jardin du Luxembourg urban park in Paris, France

The Jardin du Luxembourg ), also known in English as the Luxembourg Gardens, is located in the 6th arrondissement of Paris, France. It was created beginning in 1612 by Marie de' Medici, the widow of King Henry IV of France, for a new residence she constructed, the Luxembourg Palace. The garden today is owned by the French Senate, which meets in the Palace. It covers 23 hectares and is known for its lawns, tree-lined promenades, flowerbeds, model sailboats on its circular basin, and picturesque Medici Fountain, built in 1620. The name Luxembourg comes from the Latin Mons Lucotitius, the name of the hill where the garden is located.

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