Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux

Dates1827 - 1875
BornValenciennes, France
DiedCourbevoie, France

The son of a bricklayer, Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux arrived in Paris in 1838 and worked as a messenger while studying at the free Petite École. Ten years later he entered the École des Beaux-Arts, where he studied with the Romantic sculptor François Rude. He won the Prix de Rome in 1854 and traveled to Italy, where he copied antique statues and was greatly influenced by Michelangelo and other Renaissance sculptors. By emphasizing extreme emotional and physical states in contrast to the calm, classical composure encouraged by the Académie, Carpeaux's Ugolinoof 1860 broke with prevailing formulas and laid the foundation for his reputation as the leading sculptor of the day. Returning to Paris in 1862, Carpeaux executed numerous portrait busts and became the favored portrait sculptor of Napoleon III and his court. His sensitive portraits combined anatomical and psychological realism with a lyricism reflecting the Rococo revival that permeated much of the period's sculpture. His use of deep shadow and emphasis on chiaroscuro influenced later sculptors, including Auguste Rodin. Carpeaux also worked as a painter.