The Salons of the early 1830s, besides bringing Rude and Barye into prominence, served as showcases for sculptors then still in
their twenties. What separated them from the generation of their
teachers was that none was old enough to have experienced the Napoleonic
era. As it happened, there was not a single first-rate artist in this
group. Auguste Preault
the most interesting of them, may have been the first to
earn the epithet "a genius without talent," as he was termed by one of
his contemporaries. His ambitious relief titled Tuerie (Slaughter)
(fig. 921), sent to
the Salon of 1834,
indicates that his interest centered on extreme physical and emotional states. He submitted the panel as the fragment
of a larger composition, but this, one suspects, was merely for the
purpose of easing it past the jury. The design is actually quite
self-contained, even though every figure in it is a tragment, except for
the baby. The style of Tuerie must be termed Neo-Baroque, yet it
is brimming with a physical and emotional violence far beyond anything
found in Baroque art, and its expressive distortions, its irrational
space filled to the bursting point with writhing shapes, evoke memories
of Gothic sculpture (compare fig. 505).
In fact, the helmeted knight's face next to that of the
screaming mother hints that the subject itself—some
dread apocalyptic event beyond human control—is
medieval. But in true Romantic fashion, Preault does not define this
Tuerie established Preault's reputation as the archetypal
Romantic sculptor. As a radical attack on the rules of classical relief,
it was acclaimed by avant-garde critics. (What the other side thought of
it can easily be imagined.) Its very extremism, however, condemned
Tuerie to being a dead end. Neither Preault nor anyone else could
make it the starting point of a new development.
921. Auguste Preault. Tuerie
(Slaughter). 1834. Bronze, 109.2 x
139.7 cm. Musee des
Antoine-Augustin Préault (October 6, 1809 - January 11,
1879) was a French sculptor of the Romanticism movement.
Born in the Marais district of Paris, his name is often
recorded as Auguste Préault by which he was known during his
A student of David d'Angers, Préault first exhibited at the
Paris Salon in 1833. He was not favorably looked upon by
some of the artistic community's elite due to his
outspokenness and because he was part of the circle of
activists in the French Revolution of 1830. During that
period of turmoil Préault's studio was vandalized and many
of his plaster models were destroyed. As a result of these
circumstances his work has been largely overshadowed by his
Antoine-Augustin Préault died in Paris in
1879 and was interred in the Père Lachaise Cemetery.
Antoine-Augustin Préault. Clémence Isaure.
Luxembourg Garden, Paris.
Antoine-Augustin Préault. The Silence of Death, Tomb of Jacob Robles
Pere-Lachaise Cemetery, Paris
Antoine-Augustin Préault. Medallion Silence. Jacob Roblès tomb at Père
Lachaise Cemetery, Paris.
Antoine-Augustin Préault. Ophelia
Bronze bas-relief, 75 x 200 cm
Musee d'Orsay, Paris
Antoine-Augustin Préault. Crucifix
Wood, height 160 cm
Saint-Gervais and Saint-Protais Church, Paris