Jules-Clement Chaplin – medalist and sculptor
Jules-Clement Chaplin (July 12, 1839 – July 13, 1909) – the famous French artist of the XIX century, one of the best masters of medallions in the history of world art. He was also a talented sculptor, he created a large number of funerary monuments and memorial plaques of prominent compatriots.
Jules-Clement Chaplin also made a special contribution to the development of the heraldic art of his country. It is he who is the author of the unofficial coat of arms of France, which is still used on the covers of passports and is placed on the facades of diplomatic missions abroad.
Biography of Jules-Clement Chaplin
He was the eldest child in the family of a simple baker, in which his brother Alfred and sister Pauline were later born. The boy showed early creative abilities: he loved to draw and enthusiastically engaged in wood carving. Therefore, immediately after receiving a certificate of secondary education in 1857, the young man went to Paris and was enrolled in the National School of Arts.
Already in 1860, Chaplen’s works were awarded a silver award at an academic exhibition. Three years later, the talented artist won the Prix de Rome with a degree in medallions. From that moment on, he constantly took part in the Parisian art salons and won many well-deserved awards.
From 1864 to 1868, Jules-Clement Chaplin lived and worked in the capital of Italy, at the Villa Medici, within the walls of the French Academy of Arts in Rome. Here he honed his practical skills in sculpture and drawing. And upon returning home, the young artist took up the manufacture of medals and sculptural compositions.
In 1870, the French government commissioned Chaplin to carry out an important archaeological mission. Together with Albert Dumont, he was sent on a scientific expedition to study ceramic artifacts of ancient art in the Balkans. For three years, Jules-Clement carefully examined ancient vases, bowls, amphorae and other objects, and also sketched them in a special album. The results of this scientific work were later published in the prestigious Journal des savants.
In August 1874 Jules-Clement married Albert Dumont’s younger sister Marie-Louise. This marriage was successful for the artist. Five children were born in the marriage, of which only the eldest son died in infancy, and the remaining two sons and two daughters outlived their parents. The artist loved his children very much and even dedicated one of his greatest masterpieces to them – an exquisite medal with the profiles of Louise, Marcel, Suzanne and Maurice. In 1877, Chaplin became the chief medalist of France and held this position for more than 30 years.
In April 1881, Jules-Clement Chaplin was elected a member of the Academy of Arts and for the next 14 years was actively involved in teaching. Among his former students there are many prominent artists, including: Leonce Alloy (Léonce Alloy); Auguste Davin; Henri-Auguste-Jules Patey; Charles Pillet.
In 1895, Jules-Clement became director of the famous Sevres manufactory for the manufacture of masterpieces of art from porcelain and made a lot of efforts to develop production.
The French government highly appreciated the talent of the master and repeatedly entrusted him with the implementation of the most important state orders. It was Chaplin who designed commemorative medals for the World Exhibitions of 1867, 1878 and 1900, unique gold coins and official portraits of presidents.
By the end of his life, the outstanding master became a universally recognized master of medal art, received many awards and earned a decent fortune. But his life path was gradually approaching the finale, and on July 13, 1909, the day after the 70th anniversary, Jules-Clement Chaplin died in his Parisian house surrounded by relatives. The remains of the great artist were interred in the Montparnasse cemetery in the capital, where his grave is still located today.