Alfred Janniot

1889 – 1969

Alfred Janniot is a French sculptor of whom the production of sculptures is really important. He’s part of the Fire Artists generation, in relation with the World War I. 

The 1910's

The beginnings

Born in 1889 in Paris, Alfred Janniot is interesting in sculpture since an early age. Indeed, he sculpts his first plaster figurines when he’s eight and works really hard to perfectionnate in order to integrate the Ecole des Beaux-Arts.
In the first times, he’s the student of the sculptors Jean-Antoine Injalbert (1845-1933) and Antoine Bourdelle (1861-1929), then gets into the Ecole des Beaux-Arts of Paris.
Unfortunatly, when he’s only 25 years old, his apprenticeship stopped because of the beginning of the World War I in 1914 and his mobilisation.


First Prix de Rome

When he returns from the War, in 1919, he wins the Prix de Rome, on the appropriate theme The Return of the Hero, that he shares with the sculptor Raymond Delamarre (1890-1986). This victory allow them both to go study for three years in the Villa Medici in Roma.


Stay in Roma

During their years of residency in the Villa Medici, the boarders had to send to France each year a work they create to be exhibited in the Salon. In 1922, Janniot made his most important sent, a sculpture depicting Eros, god of Love.
Even though it did not received a medal after its exhition in the Salon, the opinion was positive.
The stay of the artist in the Villa Medici allowed him to meet other artists that would play an important role in his career, like the architects
Roger Séassal (1885-1967) and Michel Roux-Spitz (1888-1957).


Five plaster models were made with some small differences making them look like more original prepration versions than copies.
One of them is today conserved in the Musée des années 30 in Boulogne-Billancourt, another one, formerly in the Thebaide is now in private collection, the third is conserved in the Musée Antoine Bourdelle of Saint-Quentin, the fourth, the original plaster, is conserved in private collection. Unfortunately, we don’t know the history of the fifth, previsouly in Janniot’s workshop in 1921.


Exposition Internationale des Arts décoratifs

Alfred Janniot comes back to France accompanied by Raymond Delamarre in 1924 and participates the following year to the Exposition Internationale des Arts décoratifs et industriels modernes by making for the Ruhlmann pavillion, of his friend Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann (1879-1933), the three women group in homage to Jean Goujon.


Some works

Between 1928 and 1931, he sculpts the large stone bas-relief on the musées des colonies’s facade, built for the Exposition coloniale of 1931, then named Palais de la Porte Dorée. He was also called to participate to the decoration of two boats, the Île de France in 1927 and the Normandie in 1935.
We can find his works in the United States and in particular in New York where he makes the facade of the Maison de France on Rockefeller Center in 1934. Then, five years later, he exhibits there a woman bust in bronze in the Pavillion of France during the World Fair of 1939.
Many of his works can be admired today on some French buildings : he sculpts the fresco of the Post office’s pediment of Puteaux in 1935, for the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, he sculpts two bas-relief in 1937 and the same year the reliefs on the facade of the Bourse du travail building in Bordeaux. He also makes in Nice, the Art Deco style war memorial on the Corniche and the Fontaine du Soleil on the Masséna place. Finally, the statue on the landing of the stamps department in the BNF is also made by him.



By decree of October, 31st 1938, he’s named Officier de la Légion d’honneur.


The Thebaide

In September 1943, the artist workshop is bombed, he find then shelter at his friend, Gérard Ducos, long time collector and benefactor during the war. His villa’s called the Thebaide. It’s this way that Janniot was asked by the owner to make during the World War II, an unique series of sculpture to decorate the house and the garden.
This Art Deco all, counting around 40 sculptures, is inspired by the artist’s visits to Anet and Versailles and his previous creations.
Today, we owe some of these works that you can admire following this link.


Professor in the Beaux-Arts

At the end of the Worl War II in 1945 and until 1959, Janniot was a professor in the Ecole des Beaux-Arts of Paris.
As a true instructor, though defender of the figurative whent the abstraction was in vogue, he encourages his students, among who we can count Jean Cardot (1930-2020), César (1921-1998) or event Georges Delahaie (1933-2014) and Olivier Petit (1918-1979), to develop their own and personal sensibility.

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