Joaquin Claret (1879-1964)

Joaquin Claret was born November 21, 1879 in Camprodon in the Catalonian province of Gérone. He enrolled in the fine arts academy in Olot in 1892, taking courses in drawing and painting from Josep Berga i Boix, and then moved to the school of the Loge in Barcelona in 1895, where he studied sculpture in Carbonell’s studio. He went to Paris in 1900, where, after some initial difficulties, he found work as a stone-cutter, and came to the attention of Aristide Maillol in 1901. He became his student and then, for over ten years, his collaborator, assisting him particularly on his Monument to Cézanne. Maillol’s influence is quite noticeable in Claret’s work, which has occasioned critical comments.

In 1902, while a student at the Ranson academy, Claret became friends with Maurice Denis and collaborated with him on several projects, including the 1903 marble relief of the funerary monument for Madame Jamot, the wife of critic and Louvre curator Paul Jamot, and the Angel and the Virgin of the Annunciation for the priory of Saint Germain en Laye. From 1905 to 1911, he showed in Paris at the Salon d’Automne and the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts. But it wasn’t until 1921, with his solo show at the Bernheim-Jeune gallery, that his work made a major impression on the French art world : more than fifty-seven works were shown, indicating that small female figures had become his specialty, rendered in materials as diverse as terra cotta, bronze, stone, plaster, and marble, including a green glazed terra cotta figure titled Water Carriers, that had originally belonged to Maurice Denis. In the preface to the exhibition catalogue, Denis proclaimed Claret one of the best sculptors of his time. In 1925, he was named a member of the selection committee for the international exhibition of decorative arts and modern industry in the “art and industry of stone” division, and in 1926, he showed for the first time in Barcelona, which introduced him as an artist to his own country.  After years of dividing his time between France and Spain, he finally settled in Olot in Catalonia in 1940, where he showed regularly until his death in 1964.