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Lavoisier on the façade of the Cour Napoléon, Louvre

Jacques-Léonard Maillet (12 July 1823 - 14 February 1894) was a French academic sculptor[1] of modest reputation, whose themes were of neoclassical and biblical inspiration; his public commissions were in large part for the programs of decorative architectural sculpture required by the grandiose public works programs characteristic of the Second Empire,[2] which included commemorative portraits of French culture heroes. He also provided models for goldsmith's work.

Maillet was born in Paris, the son of a menuisier, or carver of furniture and panelling, of the working-class district, the Faubourg Saint-Antoine.[3]

His earliest training had been in a drawing school in the Faubourg Saint-Antoine, before he entered the école des Beaux-Arts at the age of seventeen, 1 October 1840.[4] There he studied with Jean-Jacques Feuchère, the heir of Pierre-Philippe Thomire Napoleon's official maker of bronzes d'ameublement[5] winning a second prize in the Prix de Rome, 1841. Then he studied under James Pradier, where he absorbed Pradier's style, combining a neoclassical treatment with sentimental subject matter and a taste for genre, but developed a reputation for overconfident laziness.[6]

In 1847 he received the premier grand prix de Rome on the given subject, Telemachus bringing back to Phalantes the ashes of Hippias[7] and spent four years[8] as a pensionnaire at the French Academy in Rome, which was the entry to every public career in sculpture in nineteenth-century France. A letter of Gustave Flaubert records the welcome extended to him and Maxime Du Camp.[9]

He was also interested in the technical aspects of art, and invented a polychroming process for mass-produced objects.[10]

In 1851, he returned to France, where he married Adrienne Désirée Vare, 31 December 1856; they had three daughters before separating; Mme Maillet raised her girls at Précy-sur-Oise. After her death, Maillet married the poet Jenny Grimault Touzin, already too ill to be moved from her domicile.[11] At his death, two years later, he was buried in the Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris, with no monument to mark the site.

Selected worksEdit

  • Agrippina et Caligula, Salon of 1853; his first entry in a Salon, it won a first-place medal
  • Lavoisier, for the Cour Napoléon of the Louvre.
  • Agrippine portant les cendres de Germanicus, Salon of 1861.


  1. ^ "Jacques-Léonard MAILLET, sculpteur à Paris au XIXième siècle, sa vie et son oeuvre racontées par ses descendants.", 14 September 2004.
  2. ^ Veron (1876:213) mentions the Louvre (illustration, right), Paris Opéra, Hôtel de Ville, and the churches of S. Séverin, Ste Clotilde, S. Leu, La Trinité, S. Joseph.
  3. ^ Biographical details in this article are extracted from "Jacques-Léonard Maillet, sculpteur à Paris au XIXième siècle, sa vie et son oeuvre racontées par ses descendants.", 14 September 2004, referred to as "Maillet, sculpteur".
  4. ^ "Maillet, sculpteur", noting the matriculation register, AJ52327 N°1909.
  5. ^ Bronzes d'ameublement include fire-dogs, candelbra and wall-lights, patinated and gilt-bronze figures and panels for fireplaces, handles for vases, etc.
  6. ^ "Il y a deux ans que M. Maillet a obtenu un second grand prix, il n’avait alors que dix huit ans; la confiance, si commune à cet âge, et la bonne opinion que ce demi-succès lui aura fait concevoir de lui-même, ont sans doute amené quelque relachement dans son travail, car, depuis ce temps, il n’a fait aucun progrès, et même il peut être classé aujourd’hui parmi les plus faibles du concours. En effet, si dans sa composition nous exceptons une figure d’enfant placée à droite, qui a beaucoup de jeunesse, nous trouverons que tout le reste est fort insignifiant, que les têtes sont sans caractère et les draperies très lourdes..." Quoted in "maillet, sculpteur".
  7. ^ He shared the prize that year with Jean-Joseph Perraud.
  8. ^ 26 January 1848 to 31 December 1851, noted in "Maillet, sculpteur".
  9. ^ Flaubert to his mother, Rome, 29 March 1851: "Nous avons été faire une visite à Maillet, l’ancien élève de Pradier, que tu as vu dans son atelier. Il nous a parfaitement reçus, et a eu l’air content de nous revoir."
  10. ^ "Artist Summary at". Retrieved 2008-02-17.
  11. ^ The implication of the circumstances is that they were solemnising a long-standing relationship.