Henri Chapu

Henri Chapu;
photograph by Pierre Petit

Henri-Michel-Antoine Chapu (29 September 1833 – 21 April 1891) was a French sculptor in a modified Neoclassical tradition who was known for his use of allegory in his works.

Life and career

Born in Le Mée-sur-Seine into modest circumstances, Chapu moved to Paris with his family and in 1847 entered the Petit École with the intention of studying drawing and becoming an interior decorator. There his talents began to be recognized and he was admitted to the École des Beaux-Arts in 1849. In 1850 he began working and studying with a well-known sculptor James Pradier.

Following Pradier's death in 1852 Chapu began studying with another sculptor, Francisque Duret. After coming in second in 1851, he won the Prix de Rome in 1855, then spent five years in Italy.

His statues Mercury of 1861 and Jeanne d'Arc of 1870 (in which she was represented as a peasant girl) were his first big successes, and led to many commissions thereafter. He is also known for his medals, and led the French revival in the medal as an artistic form.

An Officer of the French Legion of Honor,[1] Chapu died in Paris in 1891.

At least four full-scale reproductions of Jeanne d'Arc are on permanent display at universities in Virginia: in McConnell Library at Radford University in Radford, Virginia; beneath the rotunda in Ruffner Hall at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia; at James Madison University; and at the University of Mary Washington.[2]

Notable works

Jeanne d'Arc in Longwood University's Ruffner Hall

See also


  1. The Iconographic Encyclopaedia of the Arts and Scien: Sculpture and painting, 1887, page 138
  2. Joan of Arc @ James Madison University.
  • Fusco, Peter and H. W. Janson, editors, The Romantics to Rodin, Los Angeles County Museum of Art 1980
  • Mackay, James, The Dictionary of Sculptors in Bronze, Antique Collectors Club, Woodbridge, Suffolk 1977
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