François Joseph Bosio is a sculptor who has rightfully earned the respect

An engraved portrait of François Joseph Bosio, 1830s
An engraved portrait of François Joseph Bosio, 1830s

Sculptor who has rightfully earned the respect and recognition of the three French monarchs

François Joseph Bosio is a famous French artist of the first half of the 19th century, a prominent representative of neoclassicism. François Joseph Bosio was an outstanding sculptor of his era and enjoyed the special patronage of three kings: Napoleon Bonaparte, Louis XVIII and Charles X. Most of the masterpieces of the master’s work belong to the mythological genre, and his biography is an example of a successful career as an artist during the First Empire and the Restoration.

François Joseph Bosio was not the only member of the family of artists. In addition to him, his elder brother Jean François Bosio and his nephew Astyanax Scaevola Bosio made significant contributions to the visual arts of France.

François Joseph Bosio Apotheosis of Louis XVI, 1835
Apotheosis of Louis XVI, 1835

Biography of Francois Joseph Bosio

François Joseph Bosio was born on the territory of the tiny principality of Monaco on March 19, 1768, into a family of immigrants from Corsica. Since childhood, he was fond of drawing and dreamed of becoming a famous artist. Prince Honoré I noticed the boy’s ability for art in time and helped him after graduating from high school to get a job in the studio of the Parisian sculptor Augustin Pajou.

For five years, François was a diligent student, and then he was drafted into active service in the army for a year. After demobilization, Bosio returned to his mentor to continue his studies, but was soon forced to leave the workshop. The reason was the unflattering statements of the young sculptor about the works of his teacher in the presence of visitors. The enraged Pageu immediately kicked out the 25-year-old student and told him to never show himself in front of him.

Monument to Louis XIV, 1822
Monument to Louis XIV, 1822

Finding himself in the center of a scandal, François Joseph Bosio decided to leave France and went to Italy, where he lived for the next 15 years. In the Apennine Peninsula, he was mainly engaged in the creation of sculptures to decorate the interiors of small churches. Here he got acquainted with the work of the great Antonio Canova, whose works made a huge impression on the young sculptor.

In 1808, Bosio was finally able to return to France, having received a personal invitation from the director of the Imperial Museum, Dominique Vivant Denon. He was invited, along with two dozen other young artists, to take part in the production of bas-reliefs for the Vendome Column, erected in honor of Napoleon’s victory at Austerlitz.

Vendome Column, 1810
Vendome Column, 1810

François seized the opportunity and did his part brilliantly.

Vivan appreciated Bosio’s talent and invited him to make several sculptural busts of the Emperor Napoleon and his family members. And the young artist coped with this task without any problems, after which he gained immense fame and favor of the monarch.

The overthrow of Napoleon and the restoration of the power of the Bourbons did not affect the sculptor’s career in any way. On the contrary, in 1816 he became a professor at the National School of Fine Arts, and five years later Louis XVIII awarded him the Knightly Order of St. Michael and appointed him court sculptor. Charles X, who ascended the French throne in 1824, also respected the master, bestowed on him the title of baron and made him director of the Academy of Fine Arts.

Quadriga crowning the Arc de Triomphe in Place Carrousel, 1828
Quadriga crowning the Arc de Triomphe in Place Carrousel, 1828

In 1830, Louis-Philippe I came to power, who stripped the sculptor of honorary titles and titles. But this did not prevent Bosio from continuing to remain a respected and sought-after artist, receiving the most prestigious orders for the production of sculptural compositions.

By the end of his life, the great master enjoyed great prestige among his colleagues and became a very wealthy man. And on July 29, 1845, François Joseph Bosio died at the age of 77. He was buried in the famous Parisian cemetery Père Lachaise, where even today his grave is decorated with an unremarkable, modest tombstone.

The most famous works of François Joseph Bosio

The outstanding French sculptor left to descendants dozens of beautiful masterpieces created from marble, bronze and plaster. And yet, the most famous works of François Joseph Bosio are rightfully considered:

  1. “Aristeus, God of Gardens” (1817) is a marble sculpture of an ancient hero. The artist depicted the courageous character completely naked, in strict accordance with the classical canons of art.
  2. “Monument to Louis XIV” (1822) – a majestic monument glorifying the famous French monarch. Bosio made this sculpture to replace the work of Martin Desjardins previously installed and destroyed during the French Revolution.
  3. The Quadriga crowning the Arc de Triomphe in Piazza Carrousel (1828) is a grandiose sculptural composition created by the master to replace the original chariot with four harnessed horses installed in 1808 and later returned to Venice.
  4. The Apotheosis of Louis XVI (1835) is a marble sculpture of the French king executed during the revolution. The author depicted the monarch in ceremonial vestments, but without a crown, next to an angel who supported him in difficult times.

François Joseph Bosio is one of the greatest classical sculptors in 19th century European art. And his best masterpieces still adorn the halls of museums and squares of his native France.

The grave of François Joseph Bosio at the Pere Lachaise cemetery, mid-19th century
The grave of François Joseph Bosio at the Pere Lachaise cemetery, mid-19th century
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