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La Brodeuse: M.21-2015

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Object information

Current Location: In storage


La Brodeuse
Translated as: The Embroiderer
(The Embroiderer)


Sculptor: Dalou, Aimé-Jules




Seated figure of a woman, sewing

Legal notes

Sir Ivor and Lady Batchelor Bequest through The Art Fund

Measurements and weight

Weight: 12.02 kg

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Bequeathed (2015-04-27) by Batchelor, Ivor, Sir and Lady


20th Century
Production date: after AD 1902 : Original model: c.1870. This bronze cast after 1902.


A protégé of the French sculptor, Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux (1827-75), Dalou was one of the great French sculptors of the nineteenth century. He trained at the Petite École (1852-4) and then at the École des Beaux-Arts, Paris. La Brodeuse was Dalou’s professional breakthrough work. In 1870 he submitted a life-sized plaster model to the Paris Salon for which he was awarded a third class medal: his first official honour. The depiction of an anonymous, casually-clothed woman absorbed in an everyday task was considered a radical, highly modern sculptural subject at the time - traditional Academic sculpture favoured the portrayal of women as idealised heroines from ancient history, mythology or Christianity. The French State bought the model for 3,000 francs with the expectation that Dalou would reproduce it in marble, but events set in train later that year by the Franco-Prussian War and the Paris Commune of 1871 meant that this never happened. Although Dalou destroyed the original plaster in 1870, a plaster cast of a small preliminary model survives (Petit Palais, Paris, no. PPS1271), as does a bronze reduction of the final model (Staatliche Kunsthalle, Karlsruhe, no. P 169). Dalou was greatly concerned to oversee every aspect of the production of his work, and this also applied to works cast in bronze. He disapproved of the industrial process of sand-casting and always stipulated that his work be cast using the lost-wax casting method, even for large-scale bronzes. In his will, Dalou left instructions that the contents of his studio be sold for the benefit of the Orphelinat des Arts, a school founded in 1880 by Marie Laurent and Sarah Bernhardt to educate the children of artists working in all fields of the arts. This was on condition that the school care for his intellectually-disabled daughter, Georgette, after his death. Dalou’s executors decided to produce limited editions of certain of his models, giving foundries such as Susse and Hébrard (who also worked for Rodin and Degas' heirs) permission to cast them, with the proceeds of the reproduction rights going to the Orphelinat. The posthumous casts of Dalou's models proved so popular that by the end of 1932, the profits came to 600,000 francs. The present bronze is number 7 of a series of 12 cast by the Valsuani foundry, Paris.

School or Style


Components of the work

Figure Height 28 cm Length 24.6 cm Width 17.9 cm
Base Height 3.9 cm Length 23.4 cm Width 17.9 cm

Materials used in production

Copper alloy

Techniques used in production

Casting (process) : Bronze, cast, patinated

Inscription or legends present

  • Text: "DALOU" 7/12
  • Location: Rear top of base
  • Location: Back side of base

References and bibliographic entries

Related exhibitions

Identification numbers

Accession number: M.21-2015
Primary reference Number: 201930
Old object number: 10
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Thursday 25 June 2015 Updated: Friday 20 December 2019 Last processed: Thursday 3 August 2023

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Applied Arts

Citation for print

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2023) "La Brodeuse" Web page available at: Accessed: 2023-12-07 04:37:32

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