Private Collection, United Kingdom
Alfred Boucher was a French 19th Century sculptor, who was a friend of Auguste Rodin and the mentor to Camille Claudel.
Born in Bouy-sur-Ovin in 1850, Boucher was the son of a farmhand who became the gardener of the sculptor Joseph-Marius Ramus who after recognizing Boucher’s talent opened his studio to him.
He first studied at the School of Fine Arts in Paris under Paul Dubois, before he went on to study 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 with his work, La Piété Filiale. Among Boucher’s many achievements, 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.
Boucher provided inspiration and encouragement to the next generation of sculptors, including Laure Coutan and Camille Claudel. Before moving to Florence and after having taught Claudel and others for over three years, Boucher asked Auguste Rodin to take over the instruction of his pupils. This is how Auguste Rodin and Claudel met and their romantic relationship started.
Following this he moved to Florence for a long period of time and was one of the favourite sculptors of presidents and royalty such as George I of Greece and Maria-Pia of Romania.
Ever generous and philanthropic, he founded the studio ‘La Ruche’ in Montparnasse in 1902 to help young artists that had nowhere to work. He received the Grand Prix de sculpture de l’Exposition Universelle in 1900.
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.