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Born in Dijon on October 29, 1754, Claude Ramey won the Academy’s Grand Prix with The Good Samaritan in 1782, which allowed him to stay at the Académie de France’s villa for four years, where young artists received further training and explored Rome’s vast collections of ancient, Renaissance, Baroque and modern art. The sculptor was heavily influenced by the neoclassical style, which dominated the scene during his period of formation. During the Revolution (1792-93), Ramey worked at the Panthéon – the Musée Carnavalet in Paris has a bas-relief of Architecture, which reflects that commission. Then he did decorative work on Napoleonic monuments, for instance, a bas-relief on the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel. The Louvre has Ramey’s elegant Sappho of 1801 and Napoleon in Coronation Costume (1813).
Ramey’s decoration is found throughout Paris, from the stairway of the Senate to the portal of the Banque de France. Several of his works are in the Dijon Museum. He survived yet another regime, into the Restoration when he was made a member of the Institut in 1816 and Chevalier of the Légion d’Honneur in 1824. Although Ramey was one of the modern sculptors who merged the Antique style with the sincerity of modern naturalism, his sculptures were stiff and mechanical, in the opinion of David d’Angers. Ramey’s death was recorded on June 4, 1838. His son, Etienne-Jules Ramey (1796-1852) also had a respectable career as a sculptor.
Gallet, Michel. “Un modèle du sculpteur Claude Ramey pour la décoration révolutionnaire du Panthéon.” Bulletin du Musé Carnavalet, 1965, pp. 18-19; Angelika Kauffmann und ihre Zeitgenoßen. Exh. cat. Bregenz: Vorarlberger Landesmueum, 1968, cat. no. 380; Anon., “Ramey,” in From David to Ingres: Early 19th Century French Artists. The Grove Dictionary of Art series. London and New York: Grove Art, 2000, pp. 346-347.
Submitted by Michael Preston Worley, Ph.D.