Pierre-Charles Simart, “Oreste réfugié à l’autel de Pallas (Oreste Taking Refuge at the Altar of Pallas)”, 1840, Marble, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rouen, Normandy, France
The son of a carpenter from Troyes in Champagne, Pierre-Charles Simart was born on the 27th of June in 1806. At the age of seventeen, he received a 300 francs yearly scholarship from his hometown to attend sculpture classes in Paris. In 1833, Simart won the first Grand Prix de Rome for his bas-relief in plaster “Le Vieillard et les Enfants”, its inspiration taken from the Aesop tale “The Disunited Children of the Laborer”.
Pierre-Charles Simart studied at the French Academy in Rome from 1834 to 1839. He was the pupil of engraver and medalist Antoine Desboeufs and sculptor Charles Dupaty, a professor at the École des Beaux-Arts. Simart also received instruction from the neo-classical sculptors Jean-Pierre Cortot and James Pradier, both teaching at the Académie des Beaux-Arts.
Simart’s first notable work was the “Disc Thrower’, of which models in plaster are located at the Louvre and at the Museum of Troyes. His marble sculpture “Orestes Taking Refuge at the Altar of Pallas” was exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1840. Between 1840 and 1843, Simart executed many works including two bas-reliefs for the Hotel de Ville at Paris, two large figures entitled “Justice” and “Abundance” for the columns of the Barrière du Tróne, the marble statue “Philosophy” in the Library of Luxembourg, and the bust of M. Jourdan now at the Museum of Troyes.
After his 1841 marriage, Pierre-Charles Simart sculpted his marble standing group “Virgin and Child” for the altar of the Virgin in the Cathedral of Troyes, and for several years, worked on the decoration of the tomb of Napolean I and the ceiling of the Carré at the Louvre. A pair of Caryatid sculptures, executed by Pierre Simart, were later installed on the upper level of the Pavilion Sully at the former Palais de Louvre during a major renovation and decoration project in 1857.
Simart was elected a member of the Académie des Beaux Arts in 1852 and an Officer of the Legion of Honour in 1856. In 1857, he composed the group sculpture “Art Demanding Inspiration from Poesy”, producing a model which was executed in marble after his death in Paris on May 27th of 1857.