Fours, Nièvre 1899 - Dallas, Texas, United States 1957
Becomes a U.S. citizen in 1934.
See Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raoul_Josset (accessed 9 December 2015).
French Sculpture Census, biography by Anne-Laure Garrec, Ecole du Louvre intern, 2011:
Raoul Josset was born in Fours, France on December 9, 1899. After his studies at the Janson de Sailly Lycée in Paris, he obtained a university degree in the history of art. He then decided to enroll in the École des Beaux-Arts (School of Fine Arts in Paris), where he learned to sculpt under Jean-Antoine Injalbert. In 1917 Josset joined the French army and participated, most notably, in the battles of Chemin des Dames and Verdun. In the following year the young soldier was transferred to the American expeditionary force, for which he worked as an interpreter. From 1919 to 1921, Josset returned to the École des Beaux-Arts to pursue his apprenticeship in sculpture. In 1922 and 1923 he was awarded the first-place medal at the Salon des Artistes français (Exhibition of French Artists), and in 1923 he received the Prix de Rome, a scholarship to study at the French Art Academy in Rome. He later became the student of Émile-Antoine Bourdelle and of Henri Bouchard. In addition to his work with these two artists, Josset succeeded in sculpting fifteen monuments to the dead, among which is the statue of Christ on the cross of 1924 for the town of Jussy in the department of Aisne, Picardy. He also created statues and reliefs for churches and private homes in the areas in France that had been devastated by the war. Other works were exhibited at the Salon des Artistes français, at the Salon d’Automne (Autumn Exhibition), and at l’Exposition des Arts décoratifs (Exposition of the Decorative Arts), Paris, in 1925. Besides his activities as a sculptor, Josset wrote art criticism for the Paris magazine, La Peinture, from 1921 to 1924.
In 1926 Josset and his friend, the sculptor José Martin were invited to work at the Northwestern Terracotta Company in Chicago by an American named Mr. Lucas. The recruiter wanted to import the methods and style of French Art Deco to his company in order to incorporate a new creative dynamic. Unlike José Martin, Josset left Cherbourg on the liner S.S. Olympic on March 14, 1927. Once he had arrived on American soil, he settled in Chicago. Here he built a reputation by creating decorations for various buildings in the city, such as the Palmolive and Carbide & Carbon Buildings. At the beginning of 1931, Josset found employment in Cleveland, as had his friend, José Martin, however, in October the company went under, and he was forced to return to Chicago. In May 1932, Josset acquired a vast space on the first floor of the America-Fore Building on Rush Street, where he set up a studio and opened a sculpture school. The school welcomed students for seven years. Besides his activities as artist and teacher, Josset frequently presented lectures at art clubs and at the Art Institute of Chicago between 1929 and 1936.
In 1933 Josset received commissions for Chicago World’s Fair through his friendship with Donald Nelson, one of the architects for the project. During the early months of 1933, he and José Martin worked together on these commissions. In Josset’s studio they created a statue representing American executive power for the Federal Exhibit Building, as well as four bas-reliefs representing the Departments of State, Treasury, Army, and Navy for the fountain in the rotunda. Josset then traveled to France to visit his mother. He definitively left his native country aboard the S.S. Paris on October 11, 1933, and on September 27, 1934, he became an American citizen. That same year the Bennett, Parsons, and Frost Company commissioned him to create granite sculptures of the American Indian chief, Tecumseh, and his brother, Tenkswatawa, for the Lincoln Memorial Bridge in Vincennes, Indiana. The two statues were unveiled by President Franklin Roosevelt in June 1936.
In 1935 Josset participated in the creation of a commemorative monument in Chicago’s Marquette Park. The monument was dedicated to two Lithuanian-American aviators, Captain Steven Darius and Lieutenant Stanley Girenas, who were killed when their plane crashed in Germany after a successful transatlantic flight in 1933. That same year (1935) Josset was hired by George Dahl to take part in the decoration of Fair Park in Dallas. He and José Martin had been recommended by their friend, Donald Nelson. They arrived in Dallas in February 1936. Josset and Lawrence Tenney Stevens were charged with the creation of six monumental sculptures representing the six state authorities that successively governed Texas until its definitive integration into the United States. Josset, assisted by Martin, created statues representing France, Mexico, and the United States, while Stevens sculpted those representing Texas, Spain, and the Confederation. Martin and Josset also created the American Eagle, which decorates the summit of the Tower Building and the statue Spirit of the Centennial, located today in front of the Women’s Museum. This latter statue is of a female nude sitting on a cactus. Josset chose Georgia Carroll, a Dallas teenager, to serve as the female model from the neck up (see essay on Fair Park) for the statue. Georgia Carroll, 1919-2011, later became a famous American fashion model, actress, and singer.
After having completed his commissions at Fair Park, Josset remained in Dallas for two more years. This was, for him, a period of intense artistic creativity. He sculpted numerous works commemorating major historical figures and events. At Gonzales, Josset signed a bronze bas-relief that paid homage to thirty-two men who died in the battle at the Alamo. He also participated in the creation of two monuments near La Grange and at Refugio that commemorated respectively the Mier expedition of 1842 against Mexico and the death of Captain Amon B. King and his men in the Texas revolution of 1836. In addition, an effigy statue of René Robert Cavelier de La Salle was erected in the national park at Indianola in 1938. That same year, in collaboration with Donald Nelson and José Martin, he created the statue Pioneer Woman for the fiftieth anniversary of the Texas Fair. In the spring Josset was in New York, where he was to participate in the decoration for the 1939 New York World’s Fair: for this occasion he created the statue Excelsior, destined to stand in front of the New York State Building.
After his divorce from Lucille Rocky in the 1930s, Josset married Mary Elizabeth Armstrong in 1939. Unfortunately they separated a year later in Chicago. Josset was again alone and, moreover, troubled about finding work. He therefore decided to join the Federal Art Project, which was started by President Franklin Roosevelt for the support of artists during the Great Depression. In a public competition in Philadelphia Josset won a commission for a statue of General Marquis de Lafayette, which stands today on the Esplanade of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. In 1940 the artist participated in an international exhibition of sculpture. From 1943 to 1944, Josset resumed his teaching of sculpture at the Cooper Union School in New York.
In April 1948 Josset left New York in order to settle in Dallas. For six months he lived with José Martin and his wife. He used his friend’s studio on Exhibition Street for the execution of two large bas-reliefs that were to decorate the Masonic Lodge at Waco. Located on both sides of the main entrance, these works illustrate the construction of the temple of Salomon. The beginning of the 1950s marked both a marital failure and the artist’s return to favor. Despite his two previous divorces, Josset married, for a third time, one of his Rumanian students, Catherine Marco, who left him in less than a year. In 1950, the Dallas Museum of Art exhibited the Discus Thrower, completed the previous year for the third international exhibition of sculpture in Philadelphia. In 1951 Josset acquired his own studio on Fairmont Street in Dallas. Two years later he experienced one of the most beautiful moments of his career, when he became a member of the National Academy of Design. Between 1953 and 1954 he carved a marble statue of St. Francis of Assisi for a Mr. and Mrs. Muth of Dallas. He completed a second version of this work for Mrs. Miriam Green. Always eager to share his love of art, Josset presented numerous lectures to the French Club of Dallas until 1955. From that year forward, however, Josset’s health began a downward spiral, and consequently his career began to decline. Even though Mrs. Miriam Green continued her patronage, the artist received few commissions. In 1957, Josset completed the plaster model for a statue of Sam Houston for the Masonic Temple at Waco. Unfortunately he did not have the time to cast his model in bronze, for he died of cirrhosis of the liver on June 29, 1957, in Dallas.
Number of sculptures: 16