Irénée Félix René Rochard (1906 -1984)
Irénée ROCHARD was born into a family of artists: his mother was a painter and his brother became the actor-singer Armand Mestral. He also became an artist, and very quickly turned towards animal sculpture.
1924 he moved to Paris to study Decorative Arts, with Serge Zelikson and René Dubois amongst others. At the age of 22, barely out of the École des Beaux Arts, he presented his first important work, a panther in ‘grandeur nature’, for which he won a first prize. This distinction would be followed by many other bronze, silver and gold medals in the course of his career. He exhibited regularly at the Salon des Artistes Français, becoming a member in 1938.
Between the two wars, he befriended of François Pompon and rubbed shoulders with Édouard Marcel Sandoz, whom he greatly admired. He also frequented the circle of French Animalier sculptors. Whether working in bronze, ceramics, direct carving (wood, granite and marble) he did constantly seek to give intelligence to his animals, to bring out their personality, their softness or their ferocity.
Rochard had remarkable powers of observation and composition and never ceased to develop its talent, always working on new creations. A tireless artist, he created hundreds of animals in their daily attitudes with such delicacy that it suggests that they only stopped for a moment to be admired. The same goes for his horses, monkeys, gazelles, panthers, bears, ducks, bison, pelicans, camels, dogs etc. His work oscillated between stylization and a more naturalist approach. All of them are modern in their appearance and characterized by the suppleness and elegance of their shapes. The city councils of Paris and New York purchased a number of his works. Rochard never actively pursued an international career. He remained in Paris where he died in 1984.