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Jean Baptiste Clesinger, known as Auguste, was born in Besancon in 1814, son of George Philippe, sculptor and stone mason. A pupil of his father's, he showed for the first time at the Paris Salon in 1843 (bust of Viscount Jules de Valdahon). His father had taken him to Rome in 1832 and he worked in Bertel Thorvaldsen's studio for a while. Upon his return to Paris he worked with David d'Angers maintaining a studio in Rome at the same time.
He caused a scandal at the Salon of 1847 with his work entitled Woman with a Serpent. Model for this life size marble study of a nude was a well known courtesan Apollonie Sabatier, Baudelaire's mistress at the time. It is said that the scandal was orchestrated by Theophile Gautier, who spread the rumor that the cast of the statue was taken from life. (www.appl-lachaise.net). Not only was Clesinger's fame ensured from then on, but other sculptors began to show the female body in a more realistic form and true to life.
The same year Clesinger married Solange, daughter of George Sand and they had a daughter in 1849. Also in 1849, he received the Cross of the Legion of Honor; he became an Officer in the Order in 1864.
He continued to sculpt, including marble sculptures of animals like The Roman Battle of the Bulls (1856). His later work was influenced by the Greek revivalist movement.
Clesinger's marriage to Solange ended badly and their daughter died of scarlet fever in 1855. In 1864, Auguste Clesinger exhibited for the last time and died in Paris in 1883.
Romantics to Rodin