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Relief - Bacchanal
  • Bacchanal
    Dalou, Aimé-Jules, born 1838 - died 1902
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  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1879 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Dalou, Aimé-Jules, born 1838 - died 1902 (sculptor)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Painted plaster

  • Credit Line:

    Given by the daughter of the sculptor Sir Joseph Edgar Boehm

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Sculpture, Room 21a, The Dorothy and Michael Hintze Galleries, case WS

This is the first of several versions of Dalou's Bacchanal; it was exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, in 1879. The relief, showing a drunken orgy, part of the ancient cult of Bacchus, the god of wine, was accepted on loan by the V&A in 1887 from Boehm; his daughter confirmed it as a gift in 1896. Another plaster version was exhibited at the Salon of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts in Paris in 1891, and it was subsequently acquired by the Ville de Paris in 1893. It was accessioned by the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Calais, in 1975. The composition was later re-worked in marble (on a slightly larger scale); this version now adorns the Fontaine du Fleuriste at Auteuil, a suburb of Paris, under the title Scène Bacchique. There are several reduced versions of this piece in existence; a unique bronze is now in the Musée d'Orsay, Paris. There is a small plaster version in the Petit Palais, Paris, and another was shown at the exhibition Dalou Inédit at the Galerie Delestre, Paris, in 1978, and is now in a private collection.

Dalou (1838-1902) was the son of a glove maker and initially trained in drawing at the Petit École in Paris. There he was encouraged to do sculpture. In 1854 he entered the École des Beaux-Arts, where he trained for four years. He was known for his left-wing political sympathies and was involved in the establishment of the Paris Commune in 1871. After his overthrow he was forced into exile in London, where he lived from 1871 until his return to Paris in 1879. In London he frequently exhibited at the Royal Academy and he was given a teaching appointment at the National Art Training School in South Kensington (later the Royal College of Art), where he had a profound effect on the development of British sculpture.

Many of his works are of women in intimate domestic situations. Whether reading, sewing or, as here, with small children, they have a remarkable informality and intimacy. Dalou executed a number of versions specifically of Charity 1877-8.

Physical description

Plaster relief, circular; a satyr, two bacchanals and a bachante revelling. The figures are in high relief. Signed 'J. Dalou' and dated 1879.

Place of Origin

England (made)


1879 (made)


Dalou, Aimé-Jules, born 1838 - died 1902 (sculptor)

Materials and Techniques

Painted plaster

Marks and inscriptions

on the edge beneath the reclining female figure


Diameter: 175 cm

Object history note

Lent to the Museum by Sir Joseph Edgar Boehm in 1887; given by Boehm's daughter in his name in 1896. Transferred to the Bethnal Green Museum in 1969, and returned to the V&A in 1983.

Descriptive line

Relief, painted plaster, Bacchanal, by Aimé-Jules Dalou, Anglo-French, 1879

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Bilbey, Diane with Trusted, Marjorie, British Sculpture 1470 to 2000. A Concise Catalogue of the Collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2002, pp. 248,9, cat. no. 377
List of Objects in the Art Division South Kensington Museum acquired during the Year 1896. Arranged according to the dates of acquisition, with appendix and indices. London: Her Majesty's Stationary Office. Wyman and Sons. 1900. pp.70
Caillaux, H, Dalou 1838-1902: L'Homme- L'Oeuvre, Paris, 1835, pp. 92-93, pl. XIII
Dreyfous, M. Dalou: Sa vie et son ouvre, Paris, 1903, pp. 144-146
Wilson, David. 'The rediscovered Mr Gladstone goes home. A bust of the statesman by Joseph Edgar Boehm' in The British Art Journal,VII, no. 3, note 29 on p. 27
Radcliffe, A. ‘Jules Dalou in England’, in: The Connoisseur, April 1964, vol. 155, no. 626, p. 244
Avery, C. “From David d’Angers to Rodin – Britain’s national collection of French nineteenth-century sculpture”. In: The Connoisseur, April 1972, vol. 179, no. 722, p. 238
Hunisak, J.M., The Sculpture of Jules Dalou: Studies in his Style and Imagery, New York University, Phd thesis, New York and London, 1977, pp. 123 and 217, fig. 76
Hunisak, J.M., ‘Jules Dalou: The Private Side’, in: Bulletin of the Detroit Institute of Arts, LVI, no. 2, 1978, p. 133
Thieme-Becker, Allgemeines Lexikon der Bildenden Künstler, (37 vols), Leipzig, first published 1907/8 onwards, reprinted 1992, 8, p. 307



Subjects depicted

Satyr; Bacchanal


Sculpture; Portraits; Myths & Legends


Sculpture Collection

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