Sladmore: Life in Bronze

Sladmore: Life in Bronze

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 89. La Danse des Roses.

Joseph Bernard

La Danse des Roses

Lot Closed

April 6, 03:28 PM GMT


12,000 - 18,000 GBP

Lot Details


Joseph Bernard


1866 - 1931

La Danse des Roses

signed: J. Bernard and stamped: CIRE / PERDUE / A.A. HEBRARD

bronze, warm brown patina

37 by 25cm., 14½ by 9⅞in.

Joseph Bernard began his studies in Lyon and received a scholarship in 1886 which enabled him to travel to Paris to attend the École des Beaux-Arts. Whilst reference is often made to Auguste Rodin's influence, Bernard never worked in his studio, preferring to work nights at a printing press to finance the early lean years of his career. His fierce independence is reflected in his oeuvre, as he experimented with unconventional techniques such as carving in taille directe and modelling directly in plaster rather than clay. Towards the end of his career, Bernard's own influence on French sculpture had become immense. As one critic of the 1927 Salon d'Automne wrote: 'If all sculptures influenced by Bernard were removed from the galleries, what would there be left?'

La Danse des Roses was first modelled in plaster in 1905. During the course of that year, Bernard had experimented frequently with different interpretations of the theme of dance, modelling fluid and dynamic figures in clay and plaster. Compare the present bronze to his Danseur et Danseuse (Jullian, op. cit. cat. no. 75) and his Danseuse Nue (op. cit. no. 76), which is nearly identical to the dancer on the left side of the present group. The present group shows one dancer in several poses, with their hands laced together holding roses at the centre - it works almost as a series of stills from a motion picture, a montage of the same dancer in consecutive poses (Gomes Ferreira, op. cit., no. 6). Bernard sold the exclusive rights for the bronze of the present model to the Hébrard foundry, who cast at least five versions, one of which is in the private collection of Jean Bernard, the sculptor's son. The bronze was first presented at the Salon d'Automne in bronze in 1912. In a series of photographs of the sculptor's workshop, taken in the early years of the 20th century, the Danse des Roses in plaster is frequently visible in the background, showing its importance in the sculptor's oeuvre (see, for instance, Gomes Ferreira, op. cit., fig. 6). 

R. Jullian, J. Bernard, L. Stoenesco and P. Grémont Gervais, Joseph Bernard, Fondation de Coubertin, 1989, p. 282, no. 78; M. T. Gomes Ferreira, Joseph Bernard 1866-1931, exh. cat. Museu Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon, 1992, pp. 32; 98-99, no. 6