Maurice Prost | French, 1894-1967

Maurice Gaston Elie Joseph Prost (1894-1967) studied under the sculptors Léopold Morice and the Animalier sculptor Charles Valton who was to later influence his career considerably. In 1913 Prost took an apprenticeship at the studio of the ‘ciselure’ Gauthier, a Parisian goldsmith. He was awarded a second Goldsmith’s diploma by the ‘Chambre Syndicale de Bijouterie et d’Orfevrerie’ and received a gold medal for his work. However, his training as a goldsmith came to an abrupt end following the outbreak of the First World War. Prost enlisted and joined the 147th infantry regiment; he was dispatched to the front at Argonne. Within the first few months of the war he was gravely injured and transferred to a military hospital in Sainte Menehoud where his left arm was amputated due to gangrene. Demobilised and newly disabled, he was unable to continue in the profession in which he had trained, that of a goldsmith.

Shunning more sedate careers Prost was determined to persue an artistic career and took up sculpture, initially modelling his subjects. However, he quickly changed to direct carving and worked in very hard stones such as granite or onyx using a pneumatic tool of his own invention. Painter and sculptor, he observed animals ‘at rest’ in the French countryside and from 1918 he was a regular visitor to the ‘Jardin des Plantes’ in Paris where he was to meet many other Animalier artists.

He presented his first sculptural works at the ‘Salon des Artistes Francais’ in 1922 and regularly exhibited in Paris, in particular the Salon d’Automne until 1966, the year before his death.