A bust of Aimé Octobre acquired by Montmorillon

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12/4/23 - Acquisition - Montmorillon, Musée d’Art et d’Histoire - Digital photography has sadly changed the way we perceive works of art: seeing them "in real life" is sometimes disappointing. It is impossible to zoom in, to observe every detail closely. We have forgotten how to contemplate. And then, making the effort to move around doesn’t even ensure the wonder of the discovery since most paintings and sculptures are visible on databases. This is the case for the greatest masterpieces such as The Mystic Lamb (see article), and also for lesser known works. This technical evolution has its inconveniences and its advantages.

Thus the site Alienor.org weaves a network of more than fifty museums in Nouvelle Aquitaine. It serves as a showcase for them, lists their collections, announces their news, and offers videos and photos of works in three dimensions. Recently, a bust of Samuel Périvier sculpted by Aimé Octobre was digitised and can now be viewed from every angle. Sold for 1,500 euros (without expenses) at Drouot on December 3, 2021 by Mirabaud-Mercier, its entry in the Musée d’Art et d’Histoire de Montmorillon in the Vienne had escaped us. However, this digitisation and the conference offered by the museum on 9 March 2023 entitled "Aimé Octobre l’audacieux: l’œuvre du sculpteur dans la Vienne", are an opportunity to evoke this acquisition, which is all the more judicious as both the model and the artist are from the region.

The creation of the Montmorillon museum dates back to 1936, when the widow of the painter Raoul Carré offered paintings by her husband to the municipality. Other local artists, such as Jehan Berjonneau and Henri Plisson, also donated their works. After the death of its first curator, Pierre Guéraud, in 1948, the museum was abandoned. The discovery of the prehistoric site La Piscine in 1966 gave it a new impetus, and it was enriched with an archaeological collection, installed on the site of the Maison-Dieu and managed by the archaeological and historical society of Montmorillonnais. But it eventually closed its doors in 1998, even though it was awarded the title of Musée de France in 2003. A campaign of restoration and enrichment of the collections was carried out and finally, the institution, now called the Musée d’Art et d’Histoire de Montmorillon (mahm), was inaugurated in a new space in 2018.

Aimé Octobre (1868-1943)
Samuel Périvier, 1893
Marble - H. 64 cm
Montmorillon, Musée d’Art et d’Histoire
Photo: MAHM
See the image in its page

Samuel Périvier and Aimé Octobre were born in Angles-sur-l’Anglin forty years apart. The former was in fact the mayor of the town at the end of his life, and encouraged the young sculptor who portrayed him at the height of his career in 1893, when he was president of the Paris Court of Appeal.
October was probably inspired by an illustration on the front page of the supplement of the Petit Journal of 10 December 1892. Périvier also posed in the same outfit for a photograph by Ladrey Disdéri. The sculptor skilfully translates the different textures of the clothes and decorations, especially the Legion of Honour. Aimé Octobre probably exhibited this bust at the Salon de la Société des Artistes Français in 1894.

Samuel Périvier studied at the minor seminary of Montmorillon before studying law. A lawyer at the Poitiers bar until 1870, he was appointed first public prosecutor of the city’s court of appeal, and in 1877 became public prosecutor in Besançon. During the "crisis of 16 May 1877", which marked a turning point in the history of the Third Republic, President Mac Mahon appointed the Duc de Broglie as head of government, in line with his political views. Albert de Broglie, appointed both President of the Council and Minister of Justice, dismissed Périvier by demoting him to the position of councillor at the Court of Appeal of Caen: "My past, all of it devoted to the Republic, and the events that have just taken place give me the right to aspire to the honour of a frank and clear dismissal" he wrote to the Minister in his letter of resignation.
He nevertheless pursued a brilliant career. A man of influence, he presided over the "Poitou dinner", a friendly meeting of political, artistic and literary personalities living in Paris and coming from the departments of Vienne, Deux-Sèvres and Vendée. Aimé Octobre obviously attended.
He became first president of the Court of Appeal of Paris in 1883, and worked on the Panama scandal and directed the debates of the second trial of Zola before the Court of Assizes of Versailles.

The young Aimé Octobre went to Paris and entered the École nationale des beaux-arts de Paris in 1886, training in the workshops of Jules Cavelier and Jules Coutan. He won the Grand Prix de Rome with his bas-relief The Golden Age and stayed in Italy from 1893 to 1897. Although he is known for a few paintings, it was in the field of sculpture that he made his mark. He made several portraits, in addition to that of Périvier, he created the bust of Charles Vavasseur, which stands on a square in Vouvray, as well as the full-length statue of General de Ladmirault, on Place Saint-Martial in Montmorillon. He was responsible for several war memorials in the 1920s, in Montmorillon, Ile de Ré, Lusignan, Poitiers and Châtellerault, not forgetting Angles-sur-l’Anglin. He did not disdain the life and beauty of the female nude, which he approached through allegory or mythology, as shown in a nymph in the Musée d’Orsay. He also tried his hand at religious sculpture, composing Susanna at her Bath, or, a less sensual and more spiritual subject, the Resurrection.

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