Alfred Jean Halou (1875-1939)

Alfred Jean Halou was born on June 20, 1875 in Blois, and died in 1939 in Paris. He was the son of a renowned sculptor: Alfred Jean Baptiste Halou (1829-1891) who was a friend of Jules-Aimé Dalou and of Auguste Rodin.

Halou started his apprenticeship at the age of thirteen in his father’s studio in Blois. Then, a few years after the latter’s death, he settled in Paris and carried on his apprenticeship, with the ceramist Alexandre Bigot, Dalou, Alexandre Charpentier and Rodin, with whom he worked from 1903 to 1911. The master trusted him with important works such as the ornamental sculptures that were to adorn baron Vitta’s villa in Evian. The young sculptor designed three stone pediments on the theme of the seasons, and two large flower boxes embedded in groups of children, all of which were displayed at the Luxembourg Garden Museum in February 1905. At that time, he earned a grant that enabled him to travel to Italy. He then met Lucien Schnegg and joined in his group which sought the union of sensibility and of architectural construction in art. He taught Charles Despiau stone carving.

Halou then freed himself from any influence and began working for himself. The nude figures he thus created had an incredible power, of “ardent inspiration, where form is vibrant and tense” (A.-H. Martinie in La Sculpture, éd. Rieder, Paris 1928): Bather wiping herself (1909), Venus unveiled (1910), Crouching Nymph (1911).

Jean Halou was a celebrated sculptor during his lifetime and participated in the major Parisian Salons. In 1901, he started displaying his work at the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts. He was also part of the Salon des Tuileries and was one of the founding members of the 1905 Fall Salon.

He was also commissioned architectural works such as war memorials, especially in his city of Blois, for which he made the 1870 War Memorial and the Dessaigne Memorial (designed for the main hospital), and in the city of Oucques as well, with the Monument to the warrant officer Vincenot.

However, the public was especially enraptured by his small feminine statuettes. The women he made were demure and sensuous, with sturdy and curvaceous figures, and recalled more Maillol’s style than Rodin’s. Halou thus belonged clearly to the new independent sculpture school, which had broken free from the influences of modernism and Rodin.

Jean Halou’s works are stored in the museums of the Luxembourg Garden, Frankfurt, Berlin, Buenos Aires, and in Paris and Lyon Museums of Modern Arts (Crouching Nymph). However, it is in Blois, the sculptor’s birth place, that are displayed most of his works, in the Museum of Fine Arts in the Blois castle.