Auguste Clésinger

Jean-Baptiste Auguste Clésinger (22 October 1814 – 5 January 1883) was a 19th-century French sculptor and painter.

Auguste Clésinger
Jean-Baptiste Clésinger dit Auguste, 1814-1883.jpg
Jean-Baptiste Auguste Clésinger

22 October 1814
Besançon, France
Died5 January 1883(1883-01-05) (aged 68)
Paris, France
Known forPainting and sculpture
AwardsOfficier de la Légion d'honneur


Leda and the swan, Musée de Picardie, Amiens
Euterpe, muse of Music, funerary monument at the grave of Frédéric Chopin, Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, by Auguste Clésinger (1850)

Auguste Clésinger was born in Besançon, in the Doubs department of France. His father, Georges-Philippe, was a sculptor and trained Auguste in art. Auguste first exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1843 with a bust of vicomte Jules de Valdahon and last exhibited there in 1864. At the 1847 Salon, he created a sensation with his Woman Bitten by a Serpent, produced from life-casts from his model Apollonie Sabatier (the pose being particularly suitable for such a method), thus reinforcing the scandal with an erotic dimension. Appolonie Sabatier was a salonnière and the mistress of Charles Baudelaire and others. The sculpture's beauty was praised by Théophile Gautier:

Clésinger has resolved this problem of making beauty without cuteness, without affectation, without mannerism, with a head and a body of our own time, in which can be recognised his mistress if she is beautiful.

Clésinger also portrayed Sabatier as herself, in an 1847 marble sculpture now in the Musée d'Orsay.

He produced busts of Rachel Félix and of Théophile Gautier, and a statue of Louise of Savoy (now in the Jardin du Luxembourg). He received the knight's cross of the Légion d'honneur in 1849 and rose to an officer of the order in 1864. In 1847, he married George Sand's daughter, Solange Dudevant. In 1849, the couple had a daughter, Jeanne, nicknamed Nini, who died in 1855 shortly after her parents' separation.

At the death of the composer-pianist Frédéric Chopin on 17 October 1849, Clésinger made Chopin's death mask and a cast of his hands. He also sculpted, in 1850, the white marble funerary monument of Euterpe, the muse of music, for Chopin's grave at the Père Lachaise Cemetery, in Paris.

Clésinger died in Paris on 5 January 1883. He is buried in the Père Lachaise Cemetery (division 10). His heir was his model and mistress Berthe de Courrière.

Selected worksEdit

Biblical artEdit

He produced life-size statues for the side chapels of the Église de la Madeleine in Besançon, of the Via Dolorosa, the Pietà, the Entombment, the Resurrection and ascension.

Notes and referencesEdit

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