This rather ferocious Judith is one of those artworks that seems to be lost. Not just to me – but truly lost.
The sculpture titled “Judith and Holofernes” is the work of François Victor Bazin (1897-1956), and it won runner-up for the 1925 Prix de Rome – a scholarship that supports French art students in Rome. Bazin was enrolled in the the Paris École des Beaux-Art at the age of 16, after his parents returned from teaching as engravers and medalists in Chile during his childhood. But three years later in 1916 during the First World War, he joined the fledgling French air force and was assigned to Escadrille SPA.164, passing his pilot’s license in 1918.
(And for those who don’t know about the French air force: SPA means his division flew bi-planes manufactured by SPAD – Société Pour L’Aviation et res Derives. Bi-planes … think about it.)
After the war, Bazin completed his studies and was contacted by the Hispano Suiza Company to create the radiator cap of their future cars. They requested that it be based on the bird motif that adorned the bi-plane “Vieux Charles” flown by French national hero Georges Guynemer. Bazin was so successful that between 1920 and 1935 he created a large number of mascots for car bonnets (“les bouchons de radiator” aka hood ornaments): Stork (1920, Hispano Suiza), Mangbetu Woman (Cruise Black Citroen), Triumph (Isotta Fraschini), elephant head (Latil), Centaur (Unic), Unicorn (Unicorn). Several have been recast by Bazin’s granddaughter and can be purchased here.
Bazin also completed commissions for numerous commemorative public monuments in Brittany that span the two World Wars, including:
- A bronze and two bas-reliefs on the monument to Jean Bourhis, an early French aviator (1922)
- “Aux bigoudens” by the side of the river at Pont-l’Abbé (1931)
- “Aux filles de la mer” near the Pont Firmin in the rue Jacques Cartier in Quimper (1939)
- Bronze for the tomb of Adolphe Duparc in Quimper’s Cathédrale Saint-Corentin (1946)
- Monument to the Bretons of Free France, known as the Cross of Pen-Hir (1949)
- He also was an accomplished medallist for municipalities in the region
Unfortunately I can find no record of what happened to his statue of Judith that nearly won the prize. His grand-daughter, Julie Bazin, is equally perplexed. We both thought that the Beaux Arts might still have it because they have traditionally kept the works of former students in their collections – and because they have Bazin’s plaster bust “La Volonté” which he completed for the school’s competition “La Tête d’expression” in 1922. However, in her correspondence with them, Mme Bazin has yet to receive information on its location.
In the meantime, she was kind enough to share these additional photographs.
Alas, it would be amazing to see firsthand the intensity of this Judith. Standing on the balls of her feet, she is arched forward. Her left hand holding the fauchion is extended fully behind her and her right hand holding the severed head is extended fully upward in front of her. Her head is slightly bowed with the exertion. She reminds me of a dancer or a diver giving her full energy to reaching outside herself, poised to launch forward with her bloody prize.
Yes, I can envision this as an appropriately feminist les bouchons de radiator for my next SUV.