• Paris, 1890's
  • Terracotta
  • Inv. 566
  • Sculpture

Baigneuse

Aimé-Jules Dalou

Like many sculptors, Dalou was a master at executing the female nude, which, in the eighteenth-century tradition, he portrayed in small sculptures of bathers. These works were a constant throughout his life, even during the final period of his career when he was extremely busy with public monument commissions for the city of Paris. This diversion was an expression of pure personal pleasure, functioning as a respite of an almost recreational nature between tasks which involved greater responsibility. It also gave him the opportunity to compare his work with that of his predecessors, particularly Falconet and Houdon, who had set the bar for excellence in this genre.

The statuette owned by the Gulbenkian Museum, which belonged to the collection of Colonel Heseltine, was described by Maurice Dreyfous in his 1903 book dedicated to Dalou’s life and work. This distinguishes it from many other pieces which have fallen into anonymity, since none of them was exhibited, either at the Paris Salon or the Royal Academy in London, making it difficult to establish their chronology.

Dalou’s biographers note that the sculptor occasionally sold some of these statuettes and even received commissions for versions in marble, notably from the Comtesse de Rouvres and Colonel Heseltine.

J.P. Heseltine Collection.Acquired by Calouste Gulbenkian from Alfred Spero, London, 29th July 1924. 

H. 48 cm; W. 17.5 cm; D. 24 cm

Dreyfous 1903
Maurice Dreyfous – Dalou. Sa Vie et son Œuvre. Paris : H. Laurens Editeur, 1903.
 
Lami 1916
Stanislas Lami – Dictionnaire des Sculpteurs de l’Ecole Française au Dix-Neuvième Siècle. Tome deuxième, D-F. Paris : 1916 (Nendeln/Liechtenstein : Kraus reprint, 1970).

Cailleux 1935
Henriette Caillaux – Aimé-Jules Dalou (1838-1902). Paris : Librairie Delagrave, 1935. 
 
Hunisak 1978
John M. Hunisak – Jules Dalou. The Private Side. In Bulletin of the Detroit Institute of Arts, vol. 56, 1978, no. 2, p. 133-40.

Figueiredo 1992
Maria Rosa Figueiredo – A Escultura Francesa. Catálogo de Escultura Europeia. Lisbon: Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, 1992, vol. I, p. 182-85.