FELIX MAURICE CHARPENTIER-MIO (Paris, 1 October 1881-Yerres, 27 June 1976)


Isadora Duncan: Ode to Poland

Cast bronze
4 ¾ × 9 inches (12 × 23 cm)
Signed, upper left: Maurice Charpentier-Mio
Monogrammed, upper right
Numbered: 3
Numbered, on the back: P 55
c. 1912

Isadora Duncan
Cast bronze
5 1/4 x 4 inches (13 3/8 x 10 cm)
Signed, at lower right: Maurice Charpentier
Inscribed, at lower left: A 17, with monogram and date: 1 1912

Croquis des jestes danses, Ballets Russes: Nijinsky, Karsavina and Schollar

Cast bronze with dark brown patina
4 7/8 × 6 ½ inches (12.5 × 16.5 cm)
Monogrammed, dated 26-5-1913, and numbered 2, lower right

Les Petits Rats, Classe Clustine

Cast bronze
8 × 4 7/8 inches (20.3 × 12.4 cm)
Signed: M. Charpentier-Mio, lower left
Lower right: monogrammed CMIO
Dated 1914
Numbered 1

Supporting Literature:

Mathias Auclaire and Caroline Arucci, “Sculpter la danse au temps des Ballets Russes: Le Croquis de gestes dansés de Maurice Charpentier-Mio,” Revue de la Bibliothèque national de France, 29, 2008, pp. 17-25.

Maurice Porchet, Charpentier-Mio et la danse : Isadora, Ballets Russes, Opéra, Champs-Élysées: Exposition [de] cent croquis, esquisses, bronzes-dessins, Paris, 1953.

Maurice Charpentier-Mio’s oeuvre is dedicated almost entirely to the dance. He was inspired by live performances in Paris, such as those of Vaslav Nijinsky and Tamara Karsavina—the stars of Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, and of the American modern dance pioneer Isadora Duncan.

Charpentier-Mio maintained his own workshop in Paris, and later in Yerres, working in a wide variety of sculptural materials, including bronze, plaster, terracotta, marble, wood, wax, and ivory, creating reliefs as well as works in the round. His series of plaquettes titled “croquis de gestes dansés,” begun in 1910, originated with sketches quickly drawn during live dance performances and later transformed into sculptural reliefs in the studio.  Our series of reliefs reflect Charpentier-Mio’s desire to transform movements recorded on the spot into bronze reliefs.  Each composition replicates the movement in the preliminary drawing – the difference being that it is drawing in bronze, rather than graphite on paper.

During his lifetime, his works were collected by a small circle of enthusiasts, including the dance critic and journalist Gilberte Cournand (1913-2005), who founded the Parisian gallery-bookshop La Danse, where in 1953 she presented an exhibition of over one hundred of Charpentier-Mio’s works devoted to the dance.

Born Felix Maurice Charpentier in Paris in 1881, Charpentier-Mio studied sculpture with Augusté Ledru fils, the brother-in-law of René Lalique. He appears to have been well established as an artist by 1911, when he exhibited at the salon of the Société des artists décorateurs, and that of the Société nationale des beaux-arts, where he exhibited regularly from 1911 to 1914, and from 1919 to 1922.

His artistic career was interrupted by several periods of military service: from 1901 to 1906, and during World Wars I and II.  Charpentier-Mio’s service to his country was recognized in 1950, when he was named an officer of the Légion d’honneur.

In 1920, after his return from World War I, Charpentier-Mio began a collaboration with the Sèvres manufactory, which, except for his period of military service between 1939 and 1941, lasted until 1943. His reputation as a sculptor flourished during the 1920s: he was elected a member of the Société national des beaux-arts in 1920, was named a chevalier of the Légion d’honneur for his work as a sculptor in 1926, and received the insignia of the hands of Georges Lechevallier-Chevinard (the director of the Sèvres manufactory) in 1927. He collaborated with the Monnaie de Paris from 1935 to 1969.

The artist added “Mio” to his name as early as 1913, possibly to distinguish himself from another contemporary sculptor named Maurice Charpentier (1858-1924) and from the older and more well-known sculptor Alexandre Charpentier (1856-1909). Charpentier-Mio also worked as a composer and lyricist using the pseudonym Maurice Cerny, and was a member of the Société des auteurs, compositeurs et éditeurs de musique.  His works are included in the collections of the bibliothèque-musée de l’Ópera, and the département des Arts du spectacle of the Bibliothèque national of France.