Aimé-Jules Dalou (1838 – 1902), Bowman Sculpture, 6 Duke Street St James’s, London, SW1, until 31st January 2015
Until the exhibition at Paris’s Petit Palais a couple of years ago this leading late 19th century French sculptor was rather under-exposed to public attention even though his works can be seen around the French capital. His work can be said to rival that of his contemporary Rodin.
This current show amply reveals his skill as a modeller and why his domestic scale models are the ones most eagerly collected today, even though many were never cast in bronze in his lifetime.
In 1871, after the fall of the Paris Commune, Dalou fled to England and spent the rest of the decade here. It was a successful time with him exhibiting at the Royal Academy and gaining many patrons, including a Royal one. His teaching in London resulted in a move away from the stiffer neo-classic forms that were then the backbone of English sculpture to what was called “New Sculpture”. Lord Leighton credited Dalou as the influence for his Athlete Struggling with a Python which is considered to be the first example of “New Sculpture”.
On his return to Paris he concentrated on large-scale works and public monuments although his staunch republicanism sometimes governed which projects he would undertake.