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Chapu, Henri-Michel-Antoine

Chapu, Henri-Michel-Antoine

Artist name Chapu, Henri-Michel-Antoine
ThB name: Chapu, Henri
Sex: m
Artist occupation: sculptor; medalist
Geographical data: France; Italy; Denmark
State: France; Italy; Denmark
Date of birth: 1833.09.29
Place of birth: Le Mée-sur-Seine (Seine-et-Marne)
Date of death: 1891.04.21
Place of death: Paris
Place(s) cited: Paris; Rom; Kopenhagen

(b Le Mee-sur-Seine, Seine-et-Marne, 23 Sept 1833; d Paris, 21 April 1891).
French sculptor. His father, a coachman, sent him to the Petite Ecole (Ecole Gratuite de Dessin), Paris, to have him trained as a tapestry-maker. In 1849 his successes led him to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris, where he became a pupil of James Pradier, Francois-Joseph Duret and Leon Cogniet. In 1855 he won the Prix de Rome for sculpture with the relief Cleobis and Biton (plaster, untraced; sketch model, Le Mee-sur-Seine, Mus. Chapu); he completed his education at the Academie de France in Rome, remaining there until 1861. During this time he lived as a virtual recluse, his only friend being the painter Leon Bonnat. The bas-relief Christ with Angels (plaster, 1857; Le Mee-sur-Seine, Mus. Chapu), which was the first of the works he was required to send for judgement at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, was strongly criticized by Duret; it now appears to be one of the most sensitive sculptures of a classicizing artist, whose other Roman works included a copy of the antique Spinario (marble, 1858; Paris, Ecole N. Sup. Beaux Arts) and the much-exhibited statue of Mercury Inventing the Caduceus (marble, 1862--3; Paris, Mus. d'Orsay).
The Prix de Rome made Chapu eligible, on his return to France, to receive official commissions. His sculptures made to decorate public buildings included statues representing the City of Beauvais (stone, 1862; Paris, Gare du Nord), Mechanical Art (stone, 1865; Paris, Tribunal de Commerce) and Cantata (stone, 1866; Paris, Opera), as well as a relief representing Literature (stone, 1866; Paris, Sorbonne) and many other works of a similar character. He received many private commissions for the sculptural decoration of private residences, including the Hotel Sauvage (1862--3), the Hotel Sedille (c. 1863) and the chateau of Chantilly, for which he carved statues of Pluto and Proserpina (marble, 1884). He also contributed to the decoration of new commercial buildings, such as the department store Grands Magasins du Printemps, Paris, for which he made statues representing the Seasons (stone, 1882; plaster models, Le Mee-sur-Seine, Mus. Chapu).
Among Chapu's religious works is the marble group of SS Germain and Genevieve (1874--89; Arras Cathedral), intended for the Pantheon, Paris; while among his numerous fine funerary monuments are the Effigy of the Duchess of Nemours (1881--3; Liverpool, Walker Art Gallery), the elaborate and ambitious tomb of Mgr Dupanloup (marble, 1887; Orleans Cathedral) and the moving and lifelike effigy of Helene, Duchesse d'Orleans (1885; Dreux, Orleans Chapel). He was also a superb portrait sculptor, producing large numbers of animated and characterful busts, among them that of Alexandre Dumas the Elder (marble, 1876; Paris, Comedie Francaise), one of the best-known images of the writer, and numerous bronze medallion portraits (58 in the Mus. d'Orsay, Paris), in the tradition of David d'Angers; these include the painters Leon Bonnat (1860), Victor Schnetz (1861) and Jean-Francois Millet (1884).
Chapu was perhaps most celebrated in his time for the classicizing and slightly sentimental female allegorical statues on his funerary monuments, such as Youth on the monument to Henri Regnault and the pupils of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts killed in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870--71 (marble, 1876; Paris, Ecole B.-A.), and Truth on the monument to Gustave Flaubert (marble, 1890; Rouen, Mus. B.-A.); these statues were widely reproduced in a variety of materials. His best-known work is the simple and naturalistic seated statue of Joan of Arc at Domremy (plaster, Salon 1870, e.g. Rome, Villa Medici and Le Mee-sur-Seine, Mus. Chapu; bronze, Copenhagen, Oster Anlaeg Park; marble, 1872,), which portrays the heroine as a peasant girl at prayer.
In 1867 Chapu was made a chevalier of the Legion d'honneur, in recognition of his works for the Exposition Universelle of that year. In 1880 he was elected to the Academie des Beaux-Arts. The sculptor and later his widow presented the contents of his studio to the municipality of Le Mee-sur-Seine, where they were housed in a building paid for by public subscription. In 1977 they were rehoused in a new building. Large collections of his drawings are in the Musee du Louvre, Paris, and the Musee de Melun in Melun.
LE MEE-SUR-SEINE/Seine-et-Marne, Mus. C.: der größte Teil der Gipsmodelle. MELUN, Mus.: Zchngn. PARIS, Louvre: 103 Zchngn. - Orsay: bed. Bestand an Zchngn.

Briefe aus Rom an die Eltern im Mus. de Melun.

ThB6, 1912 (Lit.). Lami I, 1914 (WV, Lit.); DBF VIII, 1959; Bénézit II, 1976; Kjellberg, 1987. - C. Les chefs-d'oeuvre d'art au Luxembourg, P. 1881, 126 ss.; O.Fidière, C., sa vie et son oeuvre, P. 1894; H.Jouin, Lettres inédites d'artistes franç. du XIXe s., NAAF 1900; Cat. du Mus. C. au Mée, Melun 1904; AAF, Doc., 5:1911, 330 ss.; GBA (table); La méd. en France de Ponscarme à la fin de la Belle Epoque (K Hôtel de la Monnaie), P. 1967; A.-C. Lussiez, Une oeuvre de C. pour le décor sculpté de la façade de l'Opéra, in: 100e congr. nat. des soc. savantes (Paris 1975), P. 1978, 323-330; H.C. au Mée-sur-Seine (K), Le Mée-sur-Seine 1977; Cat. gén. ill. de la Monnaie de Paris (K), III, P. 1977, 80; A.Le Normand, Une bonbonnière d'artiste, Mon. hist. 102:1979(April)66-69; A.Pingeot, Le Flaubert et le Balzac de C., Rev. du Louvre 29:1979(1)35-43; De Carpeaux à Matisse (K Wander-Ausst. Calais u.a.), Lille 1982; Dessins et sculpt. de C. (K Résidence des personnes âgées), Le Mée-sur-Seine 1983; Cat. sommaire ill. des sculpt. du Mus. d'Orsay, P. 1986; La sculpt. franç. au XIXe s. (K Grand Pal.), P. 1986; A.Le Normand-Romain, H.C. Crayon, encre et terre cuite, Rev. du Louvre 41:1991(4)47-62; A.-C. Lussiez, H.C. Sculpt., esquisses et dessins. Les acquisitions récentes des Mus. de Melun et du Mée-sur-Seine, ibid. 63-70; Centenaire H.C. (K Mus. H.C. u.a.), Le Mée-sur-Seine 1991; A.Le Normand-Romain, Mém. de marbre. La sculpt. funéraire en France 1804-1914, P. 1995. - Paris, Arch. de la Monnaie: Sér. P1. - Mitt. J.-M. Darnis, Paris.