François Pompon

Born in 1855 in Saulieu, François Pompon is the son of a carpenter-cabinetmaker. Fifty francs in his pocket, granted by the parish priest, allowed him to leave for Dijon where he worked as an apprentice for a marble mason. Eager to learn, he attends evening classes at the city’s Beaux-Arts and is passionate about sculpture. The young artist comes to Paris to deepen his knowledge thanks to the precious teachings of Aimé Millet and Pierre-Louis Rouillard at the Petite Ecole, the forerunner of the National School of Decorative Arts.

As a result of this theoretical artistic education, Pompon develops the practice of sculpture. Exceptional opportunities opened up to him: he very quickly joined Auguste Rodin’s workshop, which he took over as director and which gave him an exceptional know-how. There he met some of the most enriching people, such as the famous sculptor Ernest Nivet and Camille Claudel.

The artist is known for his animal sculptures in the round with a surprising simplification of shapes inspired by the Far East. Indeed, the sculptor set his interest very early on on Japanese art and the art of Ancient Egypt from which he drew the aesthetic singularities of his style.

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Pompon's pieces are characterized by a surprising paradox: his creations present a certain stiffness through the pure and almost jerky volumes of his modeling, yet one can still read the life and movement of the animal represented. The Polar Bear, the artist's flagship work, is a fine example of François Pompon's particularity of bringing geometry to life in a reinvented and monumental naturalistic style.

Benefiting from a growing posthumous fame, Pompon is still very much appreciated by collectors and lovers of his brilliant works of modernity. He is one of the greatest Art Deco sculptors of his time. The Claude Aguttes auction house presents exceptional animal bronzes of the artist, as well as ceramic and biscuit productions of the Manufacture de Sèvres after Pompon. On the occasion of our prestigious Art Deco sales, these works have always been a great success.
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