• ill. 1. Photograph of Henriette and Jeanne Bardey with Auguste Rodin and Rose Beuret in his house, 14 rue Robert, Lyon, held at the Muse?e des Arts de?coratifs of Lyon.

‘The art of Mrs Bardey expresses itself through the spike as well as the chisel [...] She uses all the means of expression: clay, bronze, marble or plaster, graphite, pastel, water-color, dry point or etching’.1 This is how is described the talent of Jeanne Bardey (née Bratte) in 1924 in this list that showing the variety of her artistic activities. Bardey starts her apprenticeship of painting in her native city Lyon, with Jacques Martin (1844-1919) and then with François Guiguet (1860-1937) while in Paris, where she meets Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) around 1909.2 She sends to him her drawings and seek for his attention, in an artistic way: ‘[...] to communicate with you I am practicing drawing, isn’t it the greatest way to understand each other?’3 she writes. Even when she begins sculpting under his direction, drawing is essential as she emphatically declares: ‘[...] it is in fever that I draw now. I loved drawing and I adore it now. I cannot stop drawing as when I draw I am drunk of hapiness’.4

The corpus of her drawings is a sample of the diversity of the mediums she uses and the skills she has: Bardey uses the soft and free outline in her drawings ‘[that are] surprisingly charming, full of liveliness and plain’,5 as well as the rigor of the dry point while scrutinizing her models. She makes good use of the latter for science through her drawings made from 1909: she manages to render the patients’ expressions treated at the psychiatric hospitals at Villejuif and the Pitié Salpêtrière. Bardey takes part to the study of the mental pathologies as part of the laboratory of Morphology at the École des Hautes-Études where she works from 1912 as a draughtsman.6 This year the critic Camille Mauclair gets interested in her art he compares to a writing in his article ‘Drawings by Mrs Jeanne Bardey’, which introduces her to the Parisian audience. Mauclair mentions Rodin but emphasizes the two artists ‘deeply differ from each other in the psychological intention’ of their drawings: Rodin ‘seeks synthesis of forms and analogies’ when Bardey probes ‘the inner thought of people she watches’, Mauclair comparing her approach to the ‘ writer observing’.7

She is interested in the human figure and makes portrait of anonymous models then of her relatives and politicians or artists.8 From 1910, Jeanne Bardey who signs her letters to her master ‘you pupil’ until 1916 wishes she could do a portrait of Rodin:
I would like very much to outline your feature, may I come and see you from time to time or could you give me a few pictures of portraits of yourself that I would give it back to you afterward, but it seems to me that is my duty as well as my greatest happiness.9

Our portrait is a drawing made from a photograph (ill.1) taken in 1916 in the house of Jeanne and Henriette Bardey, n° 14, rue Robert in Lyon where Rose Beuret and Rodin stay for few days of this year.10 The picture shows the three women surrounding Rodin who leans his head on his left hand and wears glasses and his black beret that features on photographs by Pierre Choumoff (1872-1936) included Portrait de Rodin coiffé d’un large béret11 in 1917. In our drawing, Bardey choses to isolate the sculptor from the group, she keeps his meditative position, casual and thoughtful at the same time. The background and his body are blurred but she focuses on his face and his hand, the tool of the artist, processing as an ‘intense analyst of the character’.12 The model stares at us and the cleverness of his gaze seems to breaks through his glasses. Through this portrait of Rodin, Bardey shows she is familiar of him, and the date 1916 has a specific meaning. One year before Rodin dies, she is in the middle of what is called ‘the battle of the Rodin’s museum’.13 Indeed, the sculptor gives a donation of his œuvre and collection to the French State in order to create his museum and intents to name in his will Bardey, along with Rose Beuret, his beneficiary. She is removed from the project by Rodin’s friends, including Judith Cladel.14 Still in 1916, Bardey makes the portrait of Rodin in terra cotta imitating bronze,15 and many other effigies of him as it may be seen in the catalogue of her retro- spective in Lyon in 1956 organized by her daughter Henriette Bardey: on the list feature portraits of Rodin made in 1916: a bust of Rodin in bronze (n° 10), and drawings as Group of three people including Rodin (n° 98), Rodin’s profile (n° 99), and a portrait of Mme Rodin (n° 97).16

Although she cannot be the legal recipient of Rodin’s memory, Bardey finds other ways to highlight the bound she has with him, a bound stronger than the regular master-student relationship. In 1924 her volume entitled Quinze estampes d’après Auguste Rodin,17 made of fifteen etchings18 from works by Rodin, is published and the etchings, along her other works, are exhibited at the Librairie Helleu et Sergent in Paris. The press notices the memory of the deceased sculptor:

[Rodin is] present, not only via few portraits in dry point made from life and for which he gave himself his ready for press written in the margin of the exhibited proof, but also in fifteen etchings where Mrs Bardey reproduces carefully fifteen sculptures by Rodin, being not afraid of adding to the memory of Rodin this gesture of admiration as a statement and that describes, with scrupulous accuracy, while exalting the beauty of his statues and drawings now famous across the world.19

This is interesting then to notice that the process of making for these etchings is similar to the one used for our portrait in 1916, a process described here:

[The etchings] are not cold copies brought by Mrs Bardey, they are interpretations that move forms and recreate them, which would not be found in an objective copy or a photograph. Here, the work of art is an opportunity to make another one, as it is made by an awed admiration.20

The photograph used by Bardey to draw our portrait of Rodin in 1916 is an interpretation too, from another medium, which shows the ease of the artist while practicing her art. She references the master’s image but still claims her own style while adding the portraits of Rodin she made to the volume Quinze estampes d’après Auguste Rodin, also known as Hommage à Rodin.21

Following her ousting from the Rodin’s museum project, Bardey travels abroad with her daughter Henriette, then from 1938, she makes several journeys in Egypt where contact with local life and antic monuments feeds her artistic production.22 Her taste for Antic Egypt is dated from 1910, when she stats a collection of object, a hobby she has in common with Rodin and many other artist of that time.23 She is also close to Egyptophile circles in Lyon, including Alexandre Varille (1909-1951) she meets in Egypt in 1938 with Henriette.24 There, Bardey draws archaeological surveys from temple excavations, hold by the Musée des Arts décoratifs of Lyon. It seems that Jeanne Bardey was close to the Varille family as Mathieu Varille (1885-1963) supported in 1940 the organization of an exhibition of Bardey’s works at the Galerie Troncy in Lyon, and he owned our portrait of Rodin.


Eva Belgherbi – tr. Eva Belgherbi


1. Edouard Fonteyne, “Alfred Veillet. - Le Japon vu par M. Dantus - Groupes d’artistes. - A Lyon.”, L’Homme libre: journal quotidien du matin, March 29th 1924, p. 2.

2. Anne Rivière, Dictionnaire des sculptrices, Paris, Mare & Martin, 2017, p. 63.

3. Letter of Jeanne Bardey to Auguste Rodin, dated of August 7th 1909, dossier correspondance Jeanne Bardey, BAR-386, Paris, Musée Rodin.

4. Letter of Jeanne Bardey to Auguste Rodin, dated of December 26th 1909, dossier correspondance Jeanne Bardey, BAR-386, Paris, Musée Rodin.

5. Camille Mauclair, “Madame Bardey”, L’Art et les artistes, April 1913, p.129-137, p. 135.

6. On a visiting card sent from Jeanne Bardey to Auguste Rodin dated of December 15th,1915 it is written: “Madame Jeanne Bardey / Dessinateur du Laboratoire de Psychologie pathologique de l’Ecole pratique des Hautes Etudes”, dossier correspondance Jeanne Bardey, BAR-386, Paris, Musée Rodin.

7. Camille Mauclair, “Les dessins de Mme Jeanne Bardey”, L’Art décoratif, May 20th 1912, p. 293-298, p. 296-297.

8. See the titles of her works featuring on the lists made by Clément Migeon about the exhibitions of Jeanne Bardey in Clément Migeon “La rencontre avec l’Orient: l’Égypte de Jeanne Bardey”, Mémoire de master en sciences de l’information et des bibliothèques: Cultures de l'écrit et de l’image: Villeurbanne, ENSSIB, supervisors Philippe Martin and Maximilien Durand, 2016-2018, 3 vol., annexes vol. II, p. 20-25.

9. Letter of Jeanne Bardey to Auguste Rodin, dated of December 30th 1910, dossier correspondance Jeanne Bardey, BAR-386, Paris, Musée Rodin.

10. Migeon, op. cit., vol. II, annexes a, p. 10.

11. Pierre Choumoff, Portrait de Rodin coiffé d’un large béret, 1917, Silver gelatine print, 8,6 x 6,6 in, Paris, Musée Rodin, Ph.00874.

12. Mauclair, op. cit., 1913, p. 137.

13. See Hubert Thiolier, Jeanne Bardey et Rodin: une élève passionnée, la bataille du Musée Rodin, Bron, H. Thiolier, 1990, and Rose-Marie Martinez, Rodin, L’Artiste face à l’État, Séguier, Paris 1993.

14. Rivière, op. cit., p. 63.

15. Migeon, op. cit., vol. II, annexe a, p. 16.

16. Catalogue of the retrospective fo Mrs Bardey’s works at the chapel of the lycée Ampère, Lyon, from June 7th to June 30th 1956.

17. Quinze estampes d’après Auguste Rodin, by Jeanne Bardey, Paris, Helleu et Sergent, 1924.

18. A set of “etchings out of 15 after Rodin’s œuvre” had already been exhibited at the Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Paris, from October 3rd to 13th 1921.

19. René-Jean, “Parmi les petites expositions”, Comœdia, January 13th 1924, p. 3.

20. René-Jean, id.

21. An advertisement for this volume precises “Quinze estampes d’après Auguste Rodin. Paris, Helleu et Sergent, 1924; peu. In-fol., en ff., dans un carton. (474) 150 fr. Album de 15 estampes, la plupart tirées à 25 épreuves num. seulement sur papier vélin blanc. On y joint 11 portraits de Rodin, dont plusieurs gravés par Mme Bardey, tirés sur divers papiers.” Comœdia, January 6th 1924, np (Documentation of the Musée Rodin, Paris).

22. The important work of research led by Cle?ment Migeon on Jeanne Bardey and Egypt sheds light on the Archives Jeanne Bardey hold by the Musée des Arts décoratifs in Lyon, including the relationship with the Varille family.

23. Migeon, op. cit., vol. I, p. 33. The collection of Jeanne Bardey is owned by the Musée des Arts décoratifs in Lyon and Clément Migeon made its inventory in his Mémoire.

24. Migeon, op. cit., vol. II, annexe a, p. 14.


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