Antoine Bourdelle

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Antoine Bourdelle, 1925.
Antoine Bourdelle, ca.1922, Monument La France, H. 9 m, bronze (Hohwiller founder), erected 18 June 1948, Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Palais de Tokyo
La Danse, 1912, bas-relief, 177 x 152 cm, facade Théâtre des Champs Elysées, Paris
La Musique, 1910-12, bas-relief, 177 x 152 cm, Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Paris

Antoine Bourdelle (30 October 1861 – 1 October 1929), born Émile Antoine Bordelles,[1] was an influential and prolific French sculptor, painter, and teacher.

His studio became the Musée Bourdelle, an art museum dedicated to his work, located at 18, rue Antoine Bourdelle, in the 15th arrondissement of Paris, France.


Bourdelle was born at Montauban, Tarn-et-Garonne. He left school at the age of 13 to work as a wood carver in his father's cabinet making shop. He learned drawing with the founder of the Ingres Museum in Montauban, then sculpture at the art school in Toulouse. At the age of 24 he won a scholarship to the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, worked briefly in the atelier of Alexandre Falguière, and frequented the studio of Jules Dalou, who was his neighbor.[2]

In 1888 he did his first sculptures of Beethoven, producing authoritative work with an emphasis on order, the spirit of geometry, construction and invention. He became one of the pioneers of 20th century monumental sculpture. Auguste Rodin became a great admirer of his work, and by September 1893 Antoine Bourdelle joined Rodin as his assistant where he soon became a popular teacher, both there and at his own studio where many future prominent artists attended his classes, so that his influence on sculpture was considerable.

During his last years, Bourdelle received several commissions for monuments and war memorials. He was a participant in the 1913 Armory Show in New York, a founder and vice-president of the Parisian Salon des Tuileries. In 1909 he was named Knight of the Legion of Honor, in 1919 Officier of the Legion of Honor, and in 1924 became a Commander of the Legion of Honor.[3] Bourdelle's son, Pierre Bourdelle (1903–1966), became an artist most active in the United States, notable for his work at Cincinnati Union Terminal in 1933.

Bourdelle died at Le Vésinet, near Paris, on 1 October 1929 and was interred in the Cimetière du Montparnasse, Paris, France.


Bust of Gustave Eiffel at the Eiffel Tower
Monument to Mickiewicz, 1929, Jardin d'Erevan, 8th arr., Paris

Bourdelle's major work includes:

Today the Musée Bourdelle in Paris sits amidst brick houses at 18 rue Antoine Bourdelle, a small street between the Gare Montparnasse and the offices of the famous French newspaper Le Monde. The museum consists of Bourdelle's house, studio and garden where he worked from 1884 to 1929. A second Bourdelle garden-museum, in Égreville, was established by his heirs in the late 1960s hosts another 56 of his sculptures.

His work is also exhibited in public collections worldwide, including Musée d'Orsay (Paris), Aichi Arts Center (Japan), Cleveland Museum of Art, National Museum of Art of Romania, Courtauld Institute of Art (London), Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna (Rome), Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, Massachusetts), Hermitage Museum (Saint Petersburg, Russia), Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (Washington D.C.), Honolulu Museum of Art, Kimbell Art Museum (Fort Worth, Texas), Kröller-Müller Museum (Otterlo, Netherlands), the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (Buenos Aires), the National Galleries of Scotland, National Gallery of Australia, Musée Ingres (Montauban), the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Middelheim Open Air Sculpture Museum (Antwerp, Belgium), and the Museum of Fine Arts (St. Petersburg, Florida).


Artists who studied with Antoine Bourdelle included:

For a first hand account of Bourdelle's teaching style see Arnold Ronnebeck's article from 1925, published in The Arts 8, no. 4 titled "Bourdelle Speaks to His Pupils: From a Paris Diary."


Antoine Bourdelle, 1910-12, Apollon et sa méditation entourée des 9 muses (The Meditation of Apollo and the Muses), bas-relief, Théâtre des Champs Elysées, Paris



  1. ^ Birth certificate of Émile Antoine Bordelles, Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication, Leonore
  2. ^ Ruth Butler, Rodin: The Shape of Genius, Yale University Press, 1993, page 266, ISBN 0300064985
  3. ^ Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication, Leonore,
  • Colin Lemoine, Antoine Bourdelle. L'oeuvre à demeure, Paris, Paris-Musées, 2009
  • Bourdelle, Émile-Antoine, “Émile-Antoine Bourdelle, Sculptures and Drawings”, Perth, Western Australian Art Gallery, 1978.
  • Ottawa.National Gallery of Canada, “Antoine Bourdelle, 1861-1929”, New York, C. E. Slatkin Galleries, 1961.
  • Colin Lemoine, “Bourdelle”, Paris, Cercle d'art, 2004
  • “Antoine Bourdelle, passeur de la modernité", exhibition catalogue (curators Roxana Theodorescu, Juliette Laffon and Colin Lemoine / Catalogue Colin Lemoine), Bucarest, National Museum of Art, 2006
  • Colin Lemoine, “Le Fruit : une œuvre majuscule d’Antoine Bourdelle”, Ligeia, January–June 2005, n°57-58-59-60, p. 60-78
  • Colin Lemoine, “...sans ce modelé à la Rodin, à la XVIIIe siècle qui beurre le tout : Bourdelle et la question d'un primitivisme occidental”, Bulletin du musée Ingres, May 2006, n° 78, p. 49-66
  • Cléopâtre Sevastos, “Ma vie avec Bourdelle”, Paris-Musées-Editions des Cendres, 2005 (annoted edition by Colin Lemoine)
  • Véronique Gautherin, “L'Oeil et la main” (2000)
  • “Antoine Bourdelle, d'un siècle l'autre. L'eurythmie de la modernité”, exhibition catalogue by Colin Lemoine, Japan (Kitakyushu, Niigata, Takamatsu, Iwaki, Nagoya, Seoul), 2007-2008.

External links

  • Works by or about Antoine Bourdelle at Internet Archive
  • Musée Bourdelle (in French)
  • Portrait of Rodin from Antoine Bourdelle, on the official website of the Musée Rodin.
  • National Art Gallery and Alexander Soutzos Museum, Bourdelle Emile-Antoine, Biography (in English)
  • Antoine Bourdelle in American public collections, on the French Sculpture Census website
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