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A Casting (Moulding) From Life (Nature), 1887

Edouard Joseph Dantan

Oil on Canvas, 4' 1/2" x 3' 41/2" (1.31 x 1.03 m)

A life caster and his assistant remove a plaster mold from the leg of a young model in Edouard Joseph Dantan's painting, A Casting From Life (1887) completed ten year's after Rodin's Age of Bronze was suspected of having been cast from life.

Details in the painting are very revealing, with the exception of some modern alternatives such as silicone and alginate, the art of life casting has changed very little in the twenty-first century studio. Note the bust hanging on the rear wall, the two plaster  portraits in the foreground and the large mortar a pestle for grinding gypsum plaster. It appears obvious from the items in the studio that these are dedicated life casters, mold makers and potters (see the shelves stocked with pottery in the back) as opposed to classical stone sculptors.

Further examination shows models of two famous Renaissance works including Michelangelo's Dying Slave of 1513. But more importantly Danatan seems to be providing an additional historic life casting clue to the distant past. Because the second model is  Francesco Luarana's  (1430-1502) Portrait of a Woman, 1472-74. Laurana  was also a life caster as he was known to have worked from plaster casts and death masks and to have painted his sculpture.

Édouard Dantan was born in Saint-Cloud Paris 1848 and died at the young age of 49 in Villerville in 1897. His father was an official sculptor so talent ran in the family. When Dantan was only 16 years old, the family moved to the park of Montretout where Edouard entered the Paris School of Art as the pupil of Isidore Pils [ 1813-1875 ]. Dantan was renown for painting interiors, especially the interior of studios, with rare facility. Dantan was a major caricaturist, because of his father's vocation, he was knowledgeable of the many  techniques of sculpture and of course life casting which had been practiced for centuries by great and lesser known sculptors as an aid to the works.