Artist biography

Charles Despiau 1874-1946

French sculptor of portrait busts and full-length nude figures, standing or seated; also draughtsman. Born at Mont-de-Marsan (Landes), son of a master-plasterer. Moved to Paris when seventeen and studied sculpture at the Ecole des Arts Décoratifs 1891-3 under Lemaire, a pupil of Carpeaux, and at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts 1893-6 under Barrias. First exhibited at the Salon des Artistes Français in 1898. In poverty for many years and was even obliged to colour picture postcards for a living. Worked as assistant to Rodin 1907-14, but turned to a more static and generalised style. Made several monuments, including a war memorial at Mont-de-Marsan 1920-2, and a few low-reliefs, but most of his works are portrait busts of female sitters in a quietly contemplative mood. Taught from 1923 at the Grande Chaumière. First one-man exhibition at the Brummer Gallery, New York, 1927. Bought a country house at Hossegor (Landes) in 1932. Died in Paris.

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, p.169