Adet, Edouard

1887 Bordeaux – 1918

  • Etude de dos

    Back study

  • Marble, before 1914

    Signed on the right side Adet

  • Size

    30 x 25.5 cm

  • Provenance

    Private collection, France

  • Literature

    Jean de Gourmont, Le sculpteur Edouard Adet (1887 – 1918), Berheim-Jeune & Cie, Paris, 1919

  • Exhibition

    On October 13, 1918, the young sculptor Edouard Adet succumbed to a devastating flu at the age of 31. The following year, the Bernheim-Jeune gallery presented a collection of his works. A small catalogue was published, introduced by Jean de Gourmont, writer and critic: “Cette exposition qui devait être le premier rayonnement de sa jeune gloire, en sera, hélas ! le précoce couronnement.”


    Born in Bordeaux and a childhood friend of François Mauriac, whose bust he will make[1], Edouard Adet is destined by his family to study political economy, which does not correspond to him at all. He then decided to travel throughout Europe before settling in Paris to train in Antoine Bourdelle’s studio[2]. His Rameur, exhibited during his years of apprenticeship at the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts in Paris, echoes his master’s Héraklès archer: through effort, the tension of the body expresses the virility and strength of the subject through simplified lines.


    His Etude de dos evokes more surely the art of Auguste Rodin and in particular La Danaïde of 1889. The purity of the line from the buttocks to the nape of the neck contrasts in these two works with the block of marble from which the female figure emerges. This one retains a raw aspect, revealing the trace of tools. The flesh is modelled gently, almost lovingly. The nude becomes a pretext for a search for global harmony. A lover of philosophy, poetry and music, Edouard Adet sculpts a work that Gourmont describes as lyrical, “d’un classicisme beaudelairien”[3].


    Women occupy an important place in Adet’s work, particularly in his marble pieces. Often a fragmentary vision, he sometimes expresses tension or pain, a certain questioning of life and death, but always with great tenderness. It is today rare to find such fine example of Ader’s oeuvre in private hands.

    [1] This bust is mentioned by Jacques Petit, ‘Mauriac et le Surréalisme’, Cahiers François Mauriac n°7, Grasset, 1980. François Mauriac also dedicates his work Une enfance provinciale : Bordeaux, reissued by L’Esprit du Temps in 2019, “A la mémoire de mes amis bordelais : Edouard Adet, André Lafon, Jean de la Ville de Mirmont, Jacques Rivière”.

    [2] A letter dated 6 April 1913, kept in the documentation of the Bourdelle Museum in Paris, testifies to the exchanges between the two sculptors.

    [3] De Gourmont, op.cit.

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