Charles-Joseph Artus | French, 1897–1978

Charles Artus was born on 16 July 1897 into a prominent family in the small seaside town of Étretat in Normandy. He moved to Paris when still young and enrolled on a sculpture course taught by Edouard Navellier, which was his only formal training. In 1920 he began exhibiting in the Salon des Artistes Français, most probably introduced by Navellier. He was awarded an honourable mention in 1922, won a bronze medal in 1926 and was then granted life membership. He was also a member of the ‘Groupe des Douzes’, a group of Animalier sculptors formed around François Pompon in 1931. Artus worked regularly with Pompon and also exhibited at the Salon des Artistes Animaliers, the Salon des Artistes Décorateurs, the Salon d’Automne, the Salon des Indépendants and the Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux-arts. Notable galleries such as Edgar Brandt, Charpentier and Bernheim Jeune showed his pieces.

His favourite subjects, executed in a simplified but sensitive style, were small domestic animals, household pets and particularly birds, whose smooth forms he was especially adept at capturing. He carved some pieces in stone, but his preference was for bronze editions of his works, cast using the lost wax process principally by Valsuani and occasionally by Alexis Rudier and Bisceglia. He also collaborated with the Sèvres factory on an edition of a black stoneware Lapin. He did preparatory drawings for his pieces and had a real though little-known talent as an Animalier painter.

In 1940 he returned permanently to Étretat where twenty years previously he had commissioned the architect Émile Mauge to design a modern atelier and exhibition space at the family home in Bligny.

His work is in public collections such as those of the Musée Nationale d’Art Moderne, Paris (Merle du Sénégal, 1930) and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (Troupial, acquired 1932; gift of Edward C. Moore Jr).