Whatever Happened to Jane Poupelet, Sculptresse Extraordinaire?

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Whatever Happened to Jane Poupelet, Sculptresse Extraordinaire?
Whatever happened to Jane Poupelet, sculptresse extraordinaire, who wowed her contemporaries during the early 20th century? Poet/critic Guillaume Apollinaire lauded her gifts in his reviews of the Salon de la Sociéte Nationale des Beaux Arts in 1911 and 1913. For the latter, he wrote: “In the present state of the sculpture rooms, it seemed to me that this year’s best work was Mme. Jane Poupelet’s Seated Woman At the Water’s Edge, and a Study in plaster.” How did such a celebrated young talent fade into the vast sea of art history? Simple. She shifted her career from primarily exhibiting graceful modernist sculpture to fashioning prosthetic masks during World War I. Here is her impressive story. Lucien Schnegg, Portrait of Jane Poupelet, 1903, Bronze, Musées d’Alger, Bordeaux, Mont-de-Marsan et Paris (Petit Palais). Marie Marcelle Jane Poupelet was born in Clauzure in the Dodogne on April 19, 1874.  In 1892, she enrolled in the École des Beaux-Arts in Bordeaux  and in 1896 she went to Paris to study at the Académie Julian. Displeased with her progress there, she took up training with the well-known artist at the time Lucien Schnegg (1864-1909), coincidently born in Bordeaux of Bavarian parents. She also knew his younger brother, the award-winning Bordeaux sculptor Gaston Schnegg. At first, she exhibited under the male pseudonym Simon de la Vergne from 1899 to1901. In 1903, she exhibited under her own name at the Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux Arts. During the following year, she won an award for a fountain, which seems to be no longer extant. Through Lucien Schnegg she met Auguste Rodin and Antoine Boudelle. Her Schnegg connection also brought her notoriety as part of the “bande à Shnegg,” along with Auguste de Niederhausern-Rodo, Charles Depiau, Alfred Jean Halou, Albert Marque, Robert Wléick, and the only other woman artist in the gang, a Belgian, Yvonne Serruys. Schnegg’s group distinguished itself from the reigning master Rodin with its smoothly modeled contours that blended contemporary modernism with a timeless classical serenity. In Poupelet particularly, we admire her polished surfaces and organic clarity. Jane Poupelet, Baby Donkey, 1907, Musée d’Orsay [public domain]

Lead photo credit : Lucien Schnegg, Jane Poupelet, 1901, marble, 14 x 11 x 6 ¾ inches Musée d’Orsay [Public Domain: Wikipedia]

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Beth S. Gersh-Nešić, Ph.D. is an art historian and the director of the New York Arts Exchange, an arts education service that offers tours and lectures in the New York tristate area. She specializes in the study of Cubism and has published on the art criticism of Apollinaire’s close friend, poet/art critic/journalist André Salmon. She teaches art history at Mercy College in Westchester, New York. She published a book with French poet/literary critic Jean-Luc Pouliquen called "Transatlantic Conversation: About Poetry and Art." Her most recent book is a translation and annotation of "Pablo Picasso, André Salmon and 'Young French Painting,'" with an introduction by Jacqueline Gojard.


  • Lauren Golden
    2020-11-12 09:36:49
    Lauren Golden
    Les masques sont merveilleux! C'est une article très intéressant.