Thursday, 13 December 2012

Sculpture as the Sum of Its Profiles:François Willème and Photosculpture in France, 1859-1868

Between 1859 and 1868, the French sculptor François Willème perfected two distinct methods for producing sculptural portraits by photographic and mechanical means. Both were founded on the principle that the reassembly of the various "profiles" of a subject would yield a recognizable and complete likeness. The use of mechanical tools, derived in part from those of Collas and Sauvage, would provide for a realistic objectivity, while the finishing of the model by hand would guarantee the final product as a work of art. The apex of photosculpture's popularity and the critical discussions about it - by Théophile Gautier and others - coincided with the early work of Auguste Rodin in which he shared with Willème a fundamental system of "profiles comparées."

 Robert A. Sobieszek The Art Bulletin Vol. 62, No. 4 (Dec., 1980), pp. 617-630

our reconstruction of Willème's apparatus

Photosculpture de la comtesse Walewska

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