Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Monegasque Sculptor Francois-Joseph Bosio

One of the most famous names to ever come out of Monaco, and one of the most famous names in the world of art in general, was the Monegasque sculptor Joseph-Francois Bosio. He was born on March 19, 1769 in Monaco where a small square in Monaco-Ville honors him. His family roots went back to the island of Corsica and they owned a large estate called Pieve dei Bosio which was elevated to a county. It was in the late XVIth Century that the family settled in the Principality of Monaco. He showed early artistic promise and from the age of 16 was refining his skills as a sculptor. From a heap of iron he produced a striking figure of Christ which attracted the attention of HSH Prince Honore III. Seeing potential in the young man the Sovereign Prince gave him a scholarship to attend school in Paris under the famous master sculptor Pajou.

Bosio served in the French army during the Revolution, becoming a lieutenant, but left the army and wandered northern Italy working on his art, mostly doing religious pieces for chapels and convents. He spent time in Florence, later worked in Rome and Naples and returned to Paris when Napoleon crowned himself Emperor. While in Italy he had befriended the sculptor Bartolini who he met again in Paris and arranged his meeting with the director of the Imperial Museums, Denon, who appreciated his talent and commissioned work from him. His talent was seen and appreciated and Empress Josephine posed for a bust for him which so impressed the Emperor Napoleon that he placed the bust in his private quarters and named the humble artist from Monaco the official favored sculptor of the French Empire.

The fame of Bosio grew to such an extent that the fall of the empire and the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy had no effect on him. He was appointed to the Academie des Beaux Arts and was retained as first sculptor by King Louis XVIII. In 1817 he was, by royal decree, made a tutor at the royal school of fine arts. King Charles X confirmed the status of Bosio bestowed by his elder brother and even elevated him to the status of a baron on May 11, 1828. During his career Bosio produced many famous pieces and busts of all the monarchs he served. His statue of a young King Henri IV is displayed at the Louvre, his equestrian statue of the famous King Louis XIV stands in the Place des Victoires but it is his many pieces from classical Greco-Roman mythology that are probably most famous.

Bosio died on July 29, 1845. A month later Raoul Rochette, permanent secretary of the Academy of Fine Arts, at a memorial at his tomb, stated of Bosio that, “He was born in a State, almost imperceptible on the political map of Europe, but which yet will one day be celebrated as the birth-place of a great artist”. Today Monaco is famous for much more but in the arena of fine art the name of the Monegasque sculptor Bosio will be remembered and honored forever.

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