The biography of Jean Gautherin (1840 - 1890).

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Jean Gautherin, sculptor (1840-1890)

Often ignored, Jean Gautherin was a great French sculptor of the 19th century. Born in the commune of Ouroux-in-Morvan on December 19, 1840, he began to sculpt there at a very young age, while his parents went in search of a better life in the capital. While guarding his neighbour's sheep, Gautherin made carvings out of small pieces of wood, which he gave to his comrades. Called to Paris by a friend of his father, he there began his career in the arts. He entered the School of Fine Arts on October 31, 1864 and a year later was admitted to the Salon, where his work was exhibited until his death. He won numerous prizes before being excluded from the competition, after winning three medals, in 1868, 1870 and 1873. In 1878, he was made Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur.

His first great success came with the plaster sculpture of Saint Sebastien in 1876 (shown below), which he later cut in marble.

Plaster of Sebastien Saint in 1876.

Gautherin next worked for the city of Paris, where, notably, he created his bust of Marianne in 1879 (pictured right), which was bought by the Hotel de Ville of Paris and the town halls of the 7th and 8th arrondisements, but also by the casino of Monte Carlo, as well as the cathedrals of Marseilles and Nevers, where he also carved bas-reliefs representing the martyrdom of Saint Cyr and Saint Judith for the high altar.

The bust of Marianne 1879.


The Paradis Perdu.

(Right) The statue of Diderot, brandishing his quill, in the Place de Saint-Germain-des-Prés in Paris.

His most celebrated works include Clotilde de Surville, symbol of maternity; the marble group, "Le Paradis Perdu" (Paradise Lost) 1881-3, represented as Adam and Eve sitting on a rock (pictured left), which can be seen at the town hall of the 5th arrondisement of Paris.

The statue of Diderot.

The statue of Diderot was created in 1884 to mark the centenary of the death of the philosopher, at the request of a committee promoting free thought.

Initially, Gautherin created a sculpture made of plaster for the occasion; the current statue, made of bronze, was inaugurated two years later, on July 14, 1886. This sculpture is one of the very few by the artist that was not destroyed under the German Occupation.

Jean Gautherin also made for Christofle a set of table candlesticks decorated with the motifs of the four seasons. His work can also be found in Copenhagen, where he was sculptor to the empress of Russia, Maria Féodorowna, widow of Alexandre III.

Still, Gautherin spent all his holidays in Montsauche and made several models for the local museum. About fifteen of his original works are in Nevers, since he founded, along with the painter, Hanotaux and sculptor, Boisseau, the Nièvre Society of the Friends of the Arts. He died at dawn on July 31, 1890, at the peak of his talent. He is buried in Paris.

A commemorative plaque is affixed to the house in which he was born, in the hamlet of Savault

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