As indicated by the signature on the back of the bust, this pretty portrait of a child was created by the sculptor Raoul Larche (1860-1912).

Raoul Larche came from a family of cabinet makers in southwest France and was very famous around 1900, the year he obtained a gold medal at the World Exhibition. The young sculptor came to Paris and trained at the École des Arts décoratifs and then at the École des Beaux-Arts where he was a student of François Jouffroy and Alexandre Falguière. He took part in the Prix de Rome competition several times, but without success. After a final unsuccessful attempt in 1888, Raoul Larche began a freelance career and regularly exhibited his works at the Salon, where his sculpted groups, freely inspired by Carpeaux and the 18th century, were a great success.

Raoul Larche’s career peaked between 1900 and 1910. At the time the sculptor worked on decorations for public buildings. The State commissioned sculptures from him for the Grand Palais, and one of his notable works was The Seine and its tributaries, a fountain still in place in the gardens of the Grand Palais. For the City of Paris, Raoul Larche produced The Tempest and its clouds, the plaster copy of which was purchased in 1896 by the City which had a bronze made of it, cast in 1942.

At the same time as working on monumental commissions, Raoul Larche worked on sculptures for reproduction, notably the model for the famous Loïe Fuller lamp in gilded bronze. His sudden death in 1912 (he was hit by a car) brutally cut short a brilliant career.

This bust of a child dates from among Raoul Larche’s earliest works: in 1899 the sculptor had just left the École des Beaux-Arts and was working on a sculpture entitled The child Jesus among the doctors, the plaster of which was exhibited in the Salon of 1890. He created a very lively portrait of a child, which seems to foreshadow his later works, in which the carefreeness of childhood was the main theme. It also testifies to the connection between the sculptor and the Lerolle family, who were artists and artist craftsmen and of which the best known representative is the painter Henry Lerolle (1848-1929), a collector and friend of Auguste Renoir and Edgar Degas.

C. C.-V.

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