Skip to main content

Public Statues and Sculpture Association

M. Dujardin (fl. 1870s)

Of the M. Dujardin who modelled the terracotta decorations on Alfred Waterhouse’s Natural History Museum at South Kensington (completed 1881), very little is known for certain. His employers on the museum decoration were the firm of architectural sculptors, Farmer & Brindley, who described him as their foreman. An accomplished sculptor with a developed skill in the special discipline of modelling in clay for baking as terracotta, Waterhouse clearly thought highly of him. It is likely that the ‘M’ with which his surname is sometimes preceded merely stands for ‘Monsieur’. Three possible identities have been suggested. The first is Auguste Dujardin (born 1847 in Paris; d. c.1918), who showed a marble medallion at the Salon of 1866 and worked as an architectural sculptor at Metz. The second is Edouard Romain Dujardin (born c.1829 in Rouen; d. 1885 in London), who is recorded living at addresses in Lambeth (c.1861) and Camberwell (1884–85). Although listed in the census returns as a wood sculptor/carver (he submitted two wood carvings, Dog’s head and Birds and flowers, to a competition for art workmen arranged by the Society of Arts in 1867) he also submitted a model in plaster, Panel of spring flowers, to the same competition in 1868 and a terracotta sculpture, Gossiping, to the RA in 1884; these examples show at least that animals and flowers were within this particular Dujardin’s range. Although neither of the aforementioned possibilities are particularly compelling, a stronger candidate came to light more recently with the 2003 acquisition by the Natural History Museum archives of a volume of drawings entitled: ‘Some details of the enrichments of the new Museum of Natural History (South Kensington) modelled by C. Dujardin for A. Waterhouse …’. Of C. Dujardin – supposing the initial to be correctly recorded – there is no reference anywhere else. It has been suggested that the reason for the ostensible disappearance from English records of such a highly skilled artist in terracotta immediately after the completion of the Natural History Museum scheme may be that he went to the USA, where the demand for his services was greater and more remunerative.

Bibliography: Building News: (i) 4 February 1876, p. 111, (ii) 11 February 1876, p. 157 (letter to the editor from Farmer & Brindley), (iii) 25 February 1876, p. 210 (letter to the editor from ‘J.R.’); T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of Kensington and Chelsea with Westminster South-West, Watford, 2023, pp. 138–41; C. Cunningham, The Terracotta Designs of Alfred Waterhouse, Chichester, West Sussex, 2001; Journal of the Society of Arts: (i) 4 January 1867, p. 98 (no. 84), p. 99 (no. 85), (ii) 10 January 1868, p. 121 (no. 56); Mapping Sculpture; H. Pethers, ‘Alfred Waterhouse and his Terracotta Ark’, 27 March 2014, Natural History Museum; C. Yanni, ‘Divine Display or Secular Science. Defining nature at the Natural History Museum in London’, Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, vol. 55, no. 3, September 1996, pp. 276–98.

Terry Cavanagh September 2023