Sculptor Statuary (1852-1905)
his work

His training
His works
Topics of his work
Raw Materials
Style and Ethics


The training
The education of Victorien Bastet was academic. As a pupil of Aime Millet on Decorative Art courses, he was able to give his wholehearted imagination and creativity.
The basis of progress for sculptors in the second half of the XIXth century remained the competitions,ultimately leading to medals from the jury of the French Artists Salon.

His Works
Solenne Fétisson studied his work and retraced 312 sculptures. 307 original works and 430 variations in sizes, materials or postures were discovered. A lot of them are still to be found in press articles, private collections, auction sale or museum wharehouses.
In Bastet's work the isolated figure prevailed; less than 10 of his works represented groups. He was a talented portrait sculptor apreciated by his E.B.A masters. He produced a large numbers of animated and characterful busts and earned a livelihood with his art.His first works were low-relief "La vierge à l'enfant ", " Le premier péché " as well as 34 medallions, ornemental fireplaces and 9 projects for funeral monuments. In 1886, he was commissionned for 6 medallions to embellish the facade of the Toulon Museum
Today we kown of 147 medallions or busts portraits .

Topics of his work
Woman was his favorite subject. About sixty statues declined this topic with free inspirations, such “Fleur des Champs”, which portrays a beautiful and healthy peasant girl.
He made a lot of busts on the subject of childhood and adolescence.It was the sculptural style of the time impelled by Rude, Carpeaux, Injalbert (born in Béziers) “Petit joueur de billes
Like Dalou he became interested by small-trade sculpture, the likes of “Petit ramoneur”, the rural “Catalane”, “Bergere” or in 1881, during the Languedoc phylloxera crisis, “La vigne mourante
His Classical works modelled during his teaching years were “Bacchus” or “Eros”…
Among Bastet's religious works were “Eve”and “Ange”, subjects in fashion at the end of the XIX century.

Victorien Bastet created only few funerary works (5 on the topic of death), “Genie penché sur un mourant”, “Douleur”, but only the bust of “Mr. Bardou Job” decorated his grave in 1894. He carved several posthumous busts, such the one of his father in 1885 “Louis-Martin Bastet: 1818-1881”.

As regards to Decorative Arts, several sketches were saved by his family. He probably was commissionned for sculptural decoration in private residences for which he carved fireplaces and doors. There were also models of funerary monuments, several "Douleurs", but we have no tracks of their final destination.
He practically abandoned the animal sculpture and only a " Lapin aux aguets " is listed even if certain titles "Cigale" and "Libellule" made us believed otherwise.

At the time,influences were eclectic. The work of Victorien Bastet was distinguished by classicism and conservative idioms of the History of Sculpture. The busts of his customers "Mrs Pourquery de Boisserin" or relatives " Juliette Delorme "were handled in this style.

But his work reflected the multiple influences of his time with neo-romanticism and a return to classicism at the end of the century. The romantic current corresponded well to his ornamental artwork, by allowing all the whims in candlesticks or pipes.
Some of his creations conveyed feelings by emphasizing facial expressions and caught the subtle variations of light. He tried to capture a specific human emotion as for "Faune", "Premiere sensation " or " L'enfant endormi ". The psychological analysis maybe genuine "of a terrible look alike " dixit Armand de Pontmartin.
From his studies at the Ecole des Beaux Arts he acquired great drawing technics. A self-portrait realized when he was about thirty years old revealed how talented he was as a painter.

His creations "Porteuse d'eau mauresque" and "Salome" were inspired by Orientalism. His most succesful work "Salammbô" was inspired by the novel heroin of Flaubert very much in vogue at the time.
He took inspiration from other novels such "Manon l' Escaut" or "Esmeralda" of Victor Hugo modelled after his wife Juliette.
The pervading historicism influences his "Guillaume Tell". The operas "Carmen",and "Névrose" were also symbolic works.
With the advances in science that the Industrial Revolution inspired, he created busts like " La Comete" or "L'etoile filante". On the other hand, his commitment had been of religioussubjects as "La Samaritaine" and 11 works treated that subject. The only politic sculpture known today is a group about the Republic.
He did only 5 monuments often connected to Felibrige, such his "Monument to Roumanille " in the Saint Martial public garden of Avignon.

The Raw Materials :
Victorian is a modeler: his sculpture were not realized in life size. He worked with wood or clay that the manufacturers of his village used for fireproof bricks. Some of his works were made out of polished plaster. Others were melted bronze sized up to 1.20 meter, as the bust of the marquess Fare Alais. He often worked with the Barbedienne foundry.
The busts that he created for public buildings were all melted in 1942. He experimented polychromatic and gilded bronze with " La Comete ". His naturalism works were made out of marble sculpted in workshops. "Le Bebe qui dort " was mentioned in alabaster and the photographed version of the sculpture was rather marble.

Style and Ethics
The postures were sophisticated as in "Lla vigne mourante ", "Biblis" or "Eve". The flight from reality had first surfaced in Romanticism but flowered again and reached its limits toward the end of the 19th century."La comète" and the heroic nude sculpture the "Danseuse", in 1897, characterized V. Bastet's work during this period.
His work reminded the excessive fastidious refinement of the 18th century sculptural style as in " Grain de Beauté".

Unlike his contemporary Felix Charpentier, Victorien suffered a lack of recognition even in his native area. He liked to consider himself as an artisan, a lover of " Beauty", rather than an artist. His conception of Art forbided him to model with bronze which would have popularized his work.
His strong beliefs in front of this distribution plunged him into financial harrassments when his sickness became invalidating. For his offspring many of his works are henceforth unknown. The artist never sought fame. The press people and the public knew more about his sculptures than of the creator.