Antoine Bourdelle was an influential and prolific French sculptor, painter, and teacher. His studio in Paris, became the Musée Bourdelle dedicated to his work.
Bourdelle was born at Montauban. He left school at the age of 13 to work as a wood carver in his father's cabinet making shop. He learned drawing with the founder of the Ingres Museum in Montauban, then sculpture at the art school in Toulouse. At the age of 24 he won a scholarship to the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, worked briefly in the atelier of Alexandre Falguière, and frequented the studio of Jules Dalou, who was his neighbor.
In 1888 he did his first sculptures of Beethoven, producing authoritative work with an emphasis on order, the spirit of geometry, construction and invention. He became one of the pioneers of 20th century monumental sculpture. Auguste Rodin became a great admirer of his work, and by September 1893 Antoine Bourdelle joined Rodin as his assistant where he soon became a popular teacher, both there and at his own studio where many future prominent artists attended his classes, so that his influence on sculpture was considerable.
During his last years, Bourdelle received several commissions for monuments and war memorials. He was a participant in the 1913 Armory Show in New York, a founder and vice-president of the Parisian Salon des Tuileries, and in 1924 became a commander of the Legion of Honor. Bourdelle's son, Pierre Bourdelle (1901–1966), became an artist most active in the United States, notable for his work at Cincinnati Union Terminal in 1933.
Bourdelle died at Le Vésinet, near Paris, on 1 October 1929 and was interred in the Cimetière du Montparnasse, Paris.
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