French, 1850-1934

'Alfred Boucher studied at the school of fine arts in Paris under Paul Dubois, perhaps even from childhood as like Dubois he was born in Nogent-sur-Seine (Aube). He also studied under Joseph Ramus and Augustin Dumont. He first exhibited in 1874 at the Paris Salon showing Child at the Fountain and a Portrait, receiving a bronze medal; in 1881 he was awarded the Prix du Salon. Having failed to win the Grand Prix de Rome, Boucher left for Rome independently in 1883. In 1887 he was made a Chevalier of the Légion d'Honneur; in 1891 he received the medal of honour; in 1900 the Grand Prix at the Exposition Universelle; and in 1925 he was promoted to Grand-Officier of the Légion d'Honneur.

Throughout his life Boucher was a close friend and admirer of his former teacher Paul Dubois, and both remained attached to their native town and kept their original studios there in addition to those in Paris. The Nogent-sur-Seine region is an area rich in clay and as children they often played and modelled with it. Around 1875 the father of Paul and Camille Claudel was working at the tax office in Nogent-sur-Seine and by 1876 Camille, then aged 12, was already moving on from simple clay modelling towards sculpture, notably with a piece entitled David and Goliath. Impressed by his daughter's talent, her father introduced her to Boucher who, although only 26 years old, was already beginning to enjoy a reputation as an artist. He too was impressed by Camille's precocious talent and advised and instructed her. During these years Boucher produced two Busts of Camille aged 14 (one of which is in the Nogent museum). He also introduced her to Dubois. Together the two artists encouraged the Claudel family to move to Paris, which they did in 1882, and Camille enrolled at the Académie Colarossi for girls where Boucher was a teacher.

In 1877, Rodin had exhibited L'Homme qui s'Éveille à la Nature at the Salon and had been accused of casting it from life; various well-known officials were commissioned to conduct an enquiry but a group of qualified artists, including Paul Dubois, attested to the authenticity of Rodin's work, for which Rodin remained grateful. In 1883 when Boucher left for Rome, it was to Rodin, to whom Dubois introduced him, that he gave the post of teacher at the Académie Colarossi, where Camille became his student before going on to work in Rodin's own studio from 1885.

Boucher's work is prolific and diverse as he received many commissions, many of which were official. His style is in line with the taste of the time. Some of his works conform to the Symbolist aesthetic and the affectations of Art Nouveau while in others Boucher shows a Post-Romantic Expressionism, perhaps influenced by Rodin, notably in the monumental group Filial Devotion, a bronze of which was erected in the garden of the Paul Dubois-Alfred Boucher museum in Nogent. Famous during his lifetime, Boucher amassed a considerable fortune. After the Exposition Universelle of 1900 he purchased one of the pavillions and items from others before they were demolished. He had them rebuilt in the Vaugirard district of Paris and made them available to artists who had nowhere to work, creating a kind of phalanstery of which he was the patron and dictated the rules. It became known as 'La Ruche' (the Beehive) and played an important role in encouraging artists throughout the century, playing host to a number of important future artists including Modigliani, Soutine and others, right up to Rebeyrolle. Today, in addition to the pieces in museum collections, Boucher's work can be seen at the Paul Dubois-Alfred Boucher museum at Nogent-sur-Seine. Temporary exhibitions are held there including one in 2003 devoted to Camille Claudel, whose success bears witness to the clear-sightedness and generosity of her first teacher.'  (Benezit, Dictionary of Artists, Gründ, 2006)

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Alfred Boucher Sculptures Previously Sold

ALFRED BOUCHER  Volubilis (Morning Glory)   White marble 20 x 17½ x 8½ inches (50.8 x 44.5 x 21.5 cm.)  SOLD

Volubilis (Morning Glory)

White marble
20 x 17½ x 8½ inches (50.8 x 44.5 x 21.5 cm.)