Robert Wlerick(1882 - French1944)
Wlérick was born in Mont-de-Marsan, France where his father’s family had relocated from Belgium and had set up a furniture factory. The young artist studied in Toulouse before moving to Paris. There he broke away from the constrictions of further formal studies and instead registered himself for permission to use the workshops and models of the Paris art schools independently.
His training ranged from apprenticeship at his father’s factory to the modelling, wood carving and draughtsmanship of his Toulouse and Paris years. During the war he was listed into the Medical corps and worked with a facial surgeon remodelling the faces of those wounded.
He exhibited at the Salon de la Société des Beaux-Arts in Paris from 1905 and also exhibited at the more progressive Salon d’Automne, also in Paris.
Wlérick was a co-founder of the Salon des Tuilleries and a portraitist and his sculptures are often named for their sitters. He was commissioned by the State on numerous war and other monuments such as for Marshall Foch, in Paris and for Condorcet, in Ribement amongst others.
Although Wlérick was warmly encouraged and praised for his work by the master Rodin, he sought a calmer, more moderate expression in his sculpture which stood apart from Rodin’s own vivacious and dynamic expressions of movement and passion.
Wlérick was friends with Charles Despiau from his early days in Paris and regularly exhibited alongside others of this new generation such as Bourdelle, Bernard and Maillol.
He was given the Chevalier of the Legion d’Honneur in 1926.
The artist died in 1944 from the reprocussions of starvation and is remembered to have continued drawing even on his deathbed.
The artist’s wife Georgette Aldric was instrumental in organising an important retrospective of his life’s work along with the painter Maurice Boitel at the Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts in the 1960s. His son, Gérard, born in 1921 also tended his father’s reputation and took on the responsibility of authenticating his father’s works.