• Tête de Femme (Head of a Young Woman with Flowing Hair) - Jules Desbois, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Tête de Femme (Head of a Young Woman with Flowing Hair) - Jules Desbois, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Tête de Femme (Head of a Young Woman with Flowing Hair) - Jules Desbois, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Tête de Femme (Head of a Young Woman with Flowing Hair) - Jules Desbois, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Tête de Femme (Head of a Young Woman with Flowing Hair) - Jules Desbois, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Tête de Femme (Head of a Young Woman with Flowing Hair) - Jules Desbois, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Tête de Femme (Head of a Young Woman with Flowing Hair) - Jules Desbois, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Tête de Femme (Head of a Young Woman with Flowing Hair) - Jules Desbois, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Tête de Femme (Head of a Young Woman with Flowing Hair) - Jules Desbois, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Tête de Femme (Head of a Young Woman with Flowing Hair) - Jules Desbois, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Tête de Femme (Head of a Young Woman with Flowing Hair) - Jules Desbois, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Tête de Femme (Head of a Young Woman with Flowing Hair) - Jules Desbois, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Tête de Femme (Head of a Young Woman with Flowing Hair) - Jules Desbois, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Tête de Femme (Head of a Young Woman with Flowing Hair) - Jules Desbois, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Tête de Femme (Head of a Young Woman with Flowing Hair) - Jules Desbois, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Tête de Femme (Head of a Young Woman with Flowing Hair) - Jules Desbois, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Tête de Femme (Head of a Young Woman with Flowing Hair) - Jules Desbois, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
Click image to enlarge

Tête de Femme (Head of a Young Woman with Flowing Hair)

Jules Desbois

(French, 1851-1935)

Signed J.Desbois
Alabaster
Height: 10 7/8'' (27.5 cm)

Conceived and carved between 1905-1914


Jules Desbois was born in 1851 in Parçay-les-Pins, in France, and was brought up in the countryside, the son of successful hoteliers. At a young age, he showed great interest in drawing and went to study at the École des Beaux-Arts first, and then under Jules Cavelier and Auguste Legras.

 

While working for Legras on a sculpture for the Exposition Universelle, the sculptor met Auguste Rodin, 11 years his senior. The two soon became close friends, admiring each other’s work and collaborating on several ceramic pieces.

Although influenced by Rodin, Desbois established his own style, which ranged from ethereal and sensuous to cruelly realistic modelling. An excellent example of the latter is the sculpture La Misère (Destitution), made between 1884-1894, which depicts a crouching, old, toothless woman in rags, her emaciated figure symbolising impoverishment. It was exhibited at the Salon in 1894 to great acclaim.

J. Desbois, La Misère (Destitution), 1884-1894, clay, Musée d’Orsay (Paris)

The model who posed for this sculpture, an elderly Italian woman named Marie Caira, also modelled for Rodin’s Celle qui fait la belle Heaulmiere (also known as L’hiver or Winter) and Camille Claudel’s Clotho. One can see that there are many similarities between these three sculptures. It is interesting to note that they were made when both Claudel and Desbois were working for Rodin.

A. Rodin, Celle qui fut la belle Heaulmière, 1887, bronze, Musée Rodin (Paris)

C. Claudel, Clotho, 1893, plaster, Musée Rodin (Paris)

On Rodin’s deathbed, the artist, when asked what the future of sculpture would be once he was gone, replied, "Il vous restera Desbois" (‘you will have Desbois’). In 1922, Desbois took over the position of head of the jury for the selection of sculpture for the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, a position previously held by Rodin. Desbois died in Paris in 1935.

The present sculpture likely dates to the period of the artist’s close contact with Camille Claudel and Auguste Rodin in the latter’s studio in Paris. This can be waged from the style of the piece, which echoes two famed compositions by Rodin, namely Le Pensée (Thought) and the portrait of Rose Beuret, dating to circa 1895 and 1898 respectively.

A.Rodin, Le Pensée (Thought), circa 1895, marble, Musée d’Orsay (Paris)

A.Rodin, Rose Beuret, 1898, marble, Musée Rodin (Paris)

Rodin carved the allegorical depiction of ‘thought’ and the portrait of his lifelong lover Rose Beuret so that the two figures appear ethereally from roughly-hewn marble. Desbois achieves the same evocative effect, merging the figure’s hair with the base of the sculpture, and thus bringing forward the delicate features of the portrait at the centre of his composition. The dream-like appearance of Desbois’ figure is further highlighted by the soft and translucent nature of the alabaster which the artist used to carve the piece.

The sculpture’s connection with Rodin’s work of the 1890’s, as well as the work of European symbolists at the turn of the century, constitute compelling visual evidence to suggest its dating to around 1900.

TEFAF Maastricht 2019

March 16, 2019 - March 24, 2019

TEFAF Maastricht 2019 March 16, 2019 - March 24, 2019

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