Musée d'Orsay: Aimé-Jules Dalou Large Peasant

Aimé-Jules Dalou
Large Peasant

Large Peasant
Aimé-Jules Dalou (1838-1902)
Large Peasant
H. 197; W. 70 ; D. 68 cm
© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / René-Gabriel Ojéda

Grand paysan [Large Peasant]

From 1889 onwards, Jules Dalou began to conceive a 'Monument to Workers'. Through visiting farms, mines and factories his artistic studies multiplied, both drawn and sculpted. In 1896 a model shows a column, with around its base twelve niches harbouring statues of workers, with at its summit a 'Peasant rolling up his sleeves'. Alltogether it measured 32 metres in height! The monument was never realised. In 1902, on Dalou's death, only the figure of the Peasant was finished. Exhibited posthumously, it remains impressive: avoiding the genre of a handsome athelete posed in the antique style, it presents a real peasant, with his body deformed by labour, captured while resting. His pose nevertheless remains noble and full of dignity. The scupltor, previously a communard and committed republican, managed to innovate while denouncing the alienation of man through labour.

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