Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux: the official sculptor of Napoleon III

Are you curious about the world of art and especially about artists who have left their mark on their era? Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux would be of much interest to you, an artist who is known as the official sculptor of Napoleon III and not only that, one that refused the rules of the academy but became a true benchmark nevertheless. 

Who is Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux exactly?

Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux was born in Valenciennes in 1827. His father who was a bricklayer and his mother who was a lacemaker moved to Paris where the young boy studied drawing, architecture and modelling from an early age, against his father's wishes. Shortly afterwards, he entered the studio of François Rude before being admitted to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. In order to be able to go to Rome, the artist spent 7 years of his life trying to win the Academy prize. His efforts enabled him to receive the prize in 1854. During his stay in Rome, he had the chance to discover Michelangelo, one of his great models. Known primarily as a sculptor, Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux was also a painter and draughtsman. In 1862, he returned to Paris where his reputation continued to grow and ultimately enabled him to become the official sculptor of Napoleon III.

Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux, the sculptor of the imperial family

Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux is known as the official sculptor of Napoleon III and his entire family. He also made a bust of Princess Mathilde. Likewise, he was responsible for the artistic education of Prince Louis-Eugène-Napoléon, the only son of Napoléon III, whose sculptures can be seen today, including those made with clay, marble and silver bronze. Nowadays, it is considered a real propaganda object that is not surprising to see in many forms. In 1871, Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux was commissioned to create a bust of Napoleon III in exile. It was completed in 1873 and represents the Emperor in all his humanity as a suffering man.

Some interesting facts about Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux

Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux made numerous portraits of his clients, friends and family. All of his busts are very lifelike, which is what he is known for. In addition to these portraits, he often received public commissions, including the decoration of the southern façade of the Pavillon de Flore in the Louvre. He used to draw sensual and smiling figures and in 1861, he was asked to decorate the façade of the Opéra with a group of three figures inspired by dance. However, it is important to note that Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux did not always follow the rules but rather added his own personal touch and drew a joyful round of nine dancers.

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