François Pompon

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François Pompon
Francois Pompon, circa 1918.JPG
Pompon, c. 1918
Born(1855-05-09)9 May 1855
Died6 May 1933(1933-05-06) (aged 77)
Nationality French
Education École nationale supérieure des arts décoratifs
Known for Sculpture
Notable work
L'Ours Blanc (The White Bear)
Movement Animalier

François Pompon (9 May 1855 6 May 1933) was a French sculptor and animalier. Pompon made his Salon debut in 1879, exhibiting a statue of Victor Hugo's Cosette (from Les Misérables). He was a pioneer of modern stylized animalier sculpture. He was not fully recognized for his artistic accomplishments until the age of 67 at the Salon d'Automne of 1922 with the work "Ours blanc", also known as "the White Bear". Pompon died in Paris, France, on 6 May 1933.

France Republic with mainland in Europe and numerous oversea territories

France, officially the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland and Italy to the east, and Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres (248,573 sq mi) and a total population of 67.3 million. France, a sovereign state, is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille and Nice.

Sculpture Branch of the visual arts that operates in three dimensions

Sculpture is the branch of the visual arts that operates in three dimensions. It is one of the plastic arts. Durable sculptural processes originally used carving and modelling, in stone, metal, ceramics, wood and other materials but, since Modernism, there has been an almost complete freedom of materials and process. A wide variety of materials may be worked by removal such as carving, assembled by welding or modelling, or molded or cast.

Animalier person who creates artworks featuring animals

An animalier is an artist, mainly from the 19th century, who specializes in, or is known for, skill in the realistic portrayal of animals. "Animal painter" is the more general term for earlier artists. Although the work may be in any genre or format, the term is most often applied to sculptors and painters.


Early life

Pompon, the son of a cabinet maker, was born on 9 May 1855 in Saulieu, Burgundy, France. [1] At age 15 he was working as an apprentice marble carver in a Dijon funerary monument company, [2] but soon thereafter took up studies at the school of fine arts in Dijon. [1] By 1873 his family had moved to Paris where the Franco-Prussian War had caused significant damage to the French capital just a few years prior to his arrival. Pompon found work on rebuilding projects, beginning with his work to produce architectural ornamentation for the new Hotel de Ville de Paris. [2]

Saulieu Commune in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, France

Saulieu is a commune in the Côte-d'Or department in the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region in eastern France.

Marble non-foliated metamorphic rock commonly used for sculpture and as a building material

Marble is a metamorphic rock composed of recrystallized carbonate minerals, most commonly calcite or dolomite. Marble is typically not foliated, although there are exceptions. In geology, the term "marble" refers to metamorphosed limestone, but its use in stonemasonry more broadly encompasses unmetamorphosed limestone. Marble is commonly used for sculpture and as a building material.

Funerary art Art associated with a repository for the remains of the dead

Funerary art is any work of art forming, or placed in, a repository for the remains of the dead. The term encompasses a wide variety of forms, including cenotaphs, tomb-like monuments which do not contain human remains, and communal memorials to the dead, such as war memorials, which may or may not contain remains, and a range of prehistoric megalithic constructs. Funerary art may serve many cultural functions. It can play a role in burial rites, serve as an article for use by the dead in the afterlife, and celebrate the life and accomplishments of the dead, whether as part of kinship-centred practices of ancestor veneration or as a publicly directed dynastic display. It can also function as a reminder of the mortality of humankind, as an expression of cultural values and roles, and help to propitiate the spirits of the dead, maintaining their benevolence and preventing their unwelcome intrusion into the lives of the living.


L'Ours Blanc (the White bear) -- sculpture by Francois Pompon Pompon LOursBlanc1.jpg
L'Ours Blanc (the White bear) — sculpture by François Pompon

Beginning in 1876 he studied under the noted animalier sculptor Pierre Louis Rouillard at the École nationale supérieure des arts décoratifs. [2] In order to support himself, he took jobs as a craftsman working for Antonin Mercié, Alexandre Falguière, and Renae de Saint-Marceaux. [1] Later he worked as Auguste Rodin's assistant. Rodin once told him, "you will be a great artist" after viewing one of his sculptures. [1] Pompon made his Salon debut in 1879, exhibiting a statue of Victor Hugo's Cosette (from Les Misérables). [2] In subsequent Salons he presented some works in the form of a few bronzes and plasters. As it turned out Rodin was correct—he would become a great artist—but it would take nearly 50 more years for Pompon to be truly discovered and recognized for his innovative style. He had some mild success in 1919 when the Musée de Luxembourg purchased a turtle dove he had sculpted in stone. Following this, the Museum of Grenoble purchased three plaster works in 1921. [2]

Pierre Louis Rouillard French sculptor

Pierre Louis Rouillard was a French sculptor known for his sculptures of animals. He was one of a "school of French animalières", which also included Pierre-Jules Mêne, Antoine-Louis Barye, Auguste Caïn and François Pompon. He worked mainly in cast iron rather than bronze.

École nationale supérieure des arts décoratifs French art school

The École nationale supérieure des Arts Décoratifs is a public grande école of art and design of PSL Research University. The school is located in the Rue d'Ulm in Paris.

Antonin Mercié French sculptor and painter

Marius Jean Antonin Mercié, was a French sculptor and painter.

Widespread recognition and fame finally came at age 67 at the Salon d'Automne of 1922 with the work "Ours blanc", also known as "the White Bear" or "Polar Bear in Stride", the marble original of which is located at the Musée d'Orsay in Paris. [1] The acclaim he received in 1922 finally allowed him to work for himself and with this new-found independence he was able to produce some of his most important works. He created Le Cerf, a large monumental bronze that was erected on the plaza of Arnhem in the Netherlands. [1] Next came Le Taureau (1933) that was erected in his hometown of Saulieu. [1] As founders for his bronzes he employed, primarily, Valsuani and Hébrard. A number of other foundries began to seize upon his notoriety and cast fakes of his work, many of extremely poor quality. [1]

Salon dAutomne French art exhibition

The Salon d'Automne, or Société du Salon d'automne, is an annual art exhibition held in Paris, France since 1903; it is currently held on the Champs-Élysées, between the Grand Palais and the Petit Palais, in mid October. The first Salon d'Automne was created under the initiative of the Belgian architect, literary man and art collector Frantz Jourdain, along with the architect Hector Guimard, the painters George Desvallières, Eugène Carrière, Félix Vallotton, Édouard Vuillard and the Maison Jansen, a Paris-based interior decoration office founded in 1880 by Dutch-born Jean-Henri Jansen.

Musée dOrsay Art museum, Design/Textile Museum, Historic site in Rue de Lille Paris, France

The Musée d'Orsay is a museum in Paris, France, on the Left Bank of the Seine. It is housed in the former Gare d'Orsay, a Beaux-Arts railway station built between 1898 and 1900. The museum holds mainly French art dating from 1848 to 1914, including paintings, sculptures, furniture, and photography. It houses the largest collection of impressionist and post-Impressionist masterpieces in the world, by painters including Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne, Seurat, Sisley, Gauguin, and Van Gogh. Many of these works were held at the Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume prior to the museum's opening in 1986. It is one of the largest art museums in Europe. Musée d'Orsay had 3.177 million visitors in 2017.

Monumental sculpture large sculpture

In contemporary art, monumental sculpture is large sculpture regardless of purpose, carrying a sense of permanent, solid, objects, rather than the temporary or fragile assemblages used in much contemporary sculpture. In ancient and medieval sculpture, size is normally taken as the criterion for definition, although smaller architectural sculptures may also be labelled monumental sculpture. In the Early Modern period a specific funerary function may be attributed to monumental sculpture.

Near the end of his life, Pompon donated to the Dijon Museum nearly 300 of his works in plaster, terracotta and bronze. [1]

Death and legacy

Pompon died in Paris, France, on 6 May 1933. He is best remembered as a forerunner of modern sculpture, and influenced Constantin Brâncuși among others.

Constantin Brâncuși French-Romanian artist

Constantin Brâncuși was a Romanian sculptor, painter and photographer who made his career in France. Considered a pioneer of modernism, one of the most influential sculptors of the 20th-century, Brâncuși is called the patriarch of modern sculpture. As a child he displayed an aptitude for carving wooden farm tools. Formal studies took him first to Bucharest, then to Munich, then to the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris from 1905 to 1907. His art emphasizes clean geometrical lines that balance forms inherent in his materials with the symbolic allusions of representational art. Brâncuși sought inspiration in non-European cultures as a source of primitive exoticism, as did Paul Gauguin, Pablo Picasso, André Derain and others. However, other influences emerge from Romanian folk art traceable through Byzantine and Dionysian traditions.

Location of sculptures

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Kjellberg, Pierre (1994). Bronzes of the 19th Century (First ed.). Atglen, Pennsylvania: Schiffer Publishing, Ltd. p. 551. ISBN   0-88740-629-7.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 "Francois Pompon (1855-1833), Sculptor". Retrieved 20 July 2015.