Demetre Chiparus is perhaps the most famous proponent of Bronze and Ivory Art Deco figurines and certainly one of the most important sculptors of the Art Deco period. His sculptures are admired for their elegance and style and are much sought after by Art Deco collectors.
Life, Study & Work
Chiparus was born in Dorohoi, Romania on September 16th 1886 to Haralamb and Saveta Chiparus. Originally named Dimitri or Demetre, he is often referred to by the name Dumitru Chiparus.
In 1909, at the age of 23, Chiparus travelled to Italy where he studied under Italian sculptor Raffaello Romanelli. Later, he travelled to Paris where he attended the Ecole des Beaux Arts as a student of both Antonin Mercie and Jean Boucher.
His family were reasonably wealthy, and as such he was able to spend most of his life living and working in Paris; a mecca for art and artists in the early 1900’s and the roaring decadence of the twenties.
Amongst his first sculptures, which he began creating in 1914, were his series of children. His style matured in the 1920’s and he produced his most renowned works of dancing ladies in glamorous costumes between 1914 and 1933. Known for their bright and outstandingly decorative effect, his sculptures were heavily influenced by the human form; dancers in the Russian ballet, French theatre and even early motion pictures are all amongst his more prominent subjects. Following the excavation of Pharaoh Tutankhamen’s tomb, he also developed an interest in all things Egyptian.
After the Second World War, when production of sculptures ground to a halt, Chiparus began sculpting for his own pleasure. By then his subject matter was animals, which he depicted in the same Art Deco style. It was on his return from one of his trips to study animals at the zoo in Vincennes that he suffered a stroke and passed away in Paris in 1947. He is buried just south of Paris in the Bagneux Cemetery.
His sculptures are characterised by exquisite modelling of the female form, combining highly decorative and elaborate details with stunning touches of Art Deco style.
He employed the combination of bronze and ivory, called chryselephantine, and often decorated his sculptures with coloured enamel to highlight particular details. His figures tend to be slender, lithe, long-legged and very life like, with faces made of ivory and wearing glamorously decorated outfits.
Chiparus worked primarily with 2 foundries who produced sculpture casts from his models, the Edmond Etling and Cie Foundry in Paris and the foundry of Les Neveux de J. Lehmann. His sculptures stand on bases made from a mixture of marble and onyx, which he designed to be stylised and extravagant.
We have an extensive selection of Chiparus figurines, including the beautiful Starfish Dancer and the playful Girl With Hoop, which are available to view in our Portobello Road Gallery and online. Do get in touch if you would like to know more about our pieces or Chiparus in general.