Sculptor and decorative designer, born and died in Paris. He entered Paris’s École des Beaux-Arts in 1828 and was taught by the sculptors Jules Ramey (1796–1852) and Jean-Jacques Feuchère (1807–1852). The latter’s small-scale, Renaissance-inspired domestic sculpture exerted the stronger influence on Klagmann’s work, he and Feuchère dominating the market in such luxury pieces in the 1840s. Klagmann made his debut at the Salon in 1831 with a plaster bas-relief, The attack of the Titans on Jupiter. His marble Saint Clotilde, Queen of France (1847), for the Luxembourg Gardens, Paris, is a rare example of an independent statue within his oeuvre. For the most part, his commissions were for the decoration of fountains and buildings. In 1844, he modelled four tritons and four female figures representing the Seine, the Loire, the Garonne and the Saône, for Louis Visconti’s Fontaine Louvois, Square Louvois, Paris; in 1848, relief busts of King René and Petrarch for the façade of the theatre at Avignon; and in 1863, a pediment sculpture, Le Chant et la Musique, for the theatre at Toulon. According to some sources he spent some time in London; this may have been around the time of South Kensington’s International Exhibition of 1862. He certainly designed and modelled the figures for the grand fountain which Antoine Durenne submitted to the exhibition (and which was erected in the adjacent Royal Horticultural Gardens), and he was one of a group of thirty French artists who were sufficiently concerned about maintaining the standards of French craftsmanship that in 1864 they founded the Union centrale des beaux-arts appliqués à l’industrie, with Klagmann its first honorary president. As for the fountain, it remained in the gardens until the spring of 1863; it was subsequently purchased, minus its outlying figures (evidently for reasons of cost), by Scottish businessman Daniel Ross who gifted it to the city of Edinburgh where – thereafter known as the Ross Fountain – it was erected in Princes Street Gardens in 1872. Klagmann’s final appearance at the Salon was in 1866, with his model for An Amazon, a stone figure commissioned for a niche on the former Palais du Louvre (now on the Louvre’s Marsan pavilion). He was appointed chevalier of the Légion d’honneur in 1853.
Bibliography: La Chronique des arts et de la curiosité: supplément à la Gazette des beaux-arts, no. 169 (27 January 1867), p. 27 (obit.); R. McKenzie, Public Sculpture of Edinburgh (2 vols), Liverpool, 2018, vol. 2, pp. 324–27; J. Turner (ed.), The Dictionary of Art, Basingstoke, 1996, vol. 11, pp. 42, 622, vol. 22, p. 191; Wikipédia; Wikiphidias – L’Encyclopédie des sculpteurs français du XIVe au XIXe.
Terry Cavanagh October 2023
Jean-Baptiste Jules Klagmann, engraving by Lafosse, 1866 (photo: public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)