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Raoul VERLET (Paris, 1856 - 1930)

Allegory of Mechanics

Tomb of Léon Bollée (1870-1913)


Original plaster

H.181 x L.190 - P.115 cm

In memory of the inventor Léon Bollée (1870-1913), otherwise called “the French Edison”, Raoul Verlet (1857 –1923) signed in 1913 a powerful allegory of mechanics, and therefore of industry whose reign at the beginning of this century has never ceased to permeate all intellectual and artistic fields through scientism and economic growth.

Raoul Verlet, born in Angoulême, received an academic training in the fine arts of Paris, in the studio of Cavelier, then that of Barrias. The academic style he developed throughout his career was heavily influenced by the eclecticism of the late 19th century. He started working alongside his father, a funeral monument contractor and cemetery caretaker. The young Verlet then aspired to a career as an artist: he abandoned the family apprenticeship and agreed to his parents to let him settle in Paris, where he followed the teaching of Cavelier, then of Barrias, at the Ecole des Beaux. -Arts.

In 1885, Raoul Verlet was already making a big splash at the Salon des Artistes Français with his tomb of Madame Lazare Weiller: a life-size bed-shaped burial place, where a couple of young people sleep in crumpled sheets. Far removed from the standards of the new wealthy bourgeoisie of the time, the work caused a scandal ("A tomb sculpted in 1885 was sharply criticized, said Thiébaut-Sisson" in "Fantômes de Pierre: sculpture à Angoulême 1860-1930 by Béatrice Roslin). In the same year, however, he won the competition for the Monument aux mobiles de Charente.This allegory of armed France installed in Angoulême is close to our allegory of mechanics, seated, with a shadowy and fearless gaze, wrapped in its veil mourning.

Verlet will have a very abundant and varied production, from ornamental statuette to portraits, from great monuments to tombs. In particular, in 1894, he signed the Maupassant monument in Parc Monceau, or in 1899, the monument of Adrien Dubouché, now kept in the Limoges museum, as well as the loose and expressive bust of the Countess of Gramont, which he frequented brilliant living room.

Also Raoul Verlet attests once again to his virtuosity with this Allegory of Mechanics, considered by Bertrand Bayer, author of numerous works on sculpture, as "one of the most beautiful faces of French statuary". So it is hardly surprising that the aplomb in the pain of the beautiful mourner of the Sainte-Croix cemetery in Le Mans translates with such eloquence the loss of this precocious inventor of the calculating machine at the age of 19 (on which is leaning the young woman), genius researcher and inventor who produced the first French car engine and experimented with the Wright brothers on the first aircraft engines.

Good condition, beautiful patina.

Raoul Verlet (1856-1930), Allegory of mechanics, original plaster, 19th century

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