(b. 1824, Paris, d. 1910, Paris)
French sculptor and stage designer. He was a nephew and pupil of François Rude and chiefly devoted himself to animal sculpture and to equestrian statues in armour. Next to Antoine Louis Barye, Frémiet is considered to be the finest and best known of the French 'Animalier' sculptors and responsible for bringing animal sculpture into fashion. His equestrian statue of Joan of Arc (Place des Pyramides, Paris) is a familiar landmark.
He started to receive his formal training in art at the age of five at a private school in Paris and he was excepted at the prestigious École des Artes Decoratifs at the unheard of age of thirteen. He was to apprentice under the painter Jacques-Christophe Werner at the age of sixteen. Frémiet also studied sculpture and modeling under his uncle François Rude, but in spite of all of his early training and advantages it was some time before he and his cousin Sophie convinced Rude to take him on as a pupil in his studio.
Much of Frémiet's time as a student was spent at the Jardin de Plantes in Paris, studying the live animals and like Barye before him, participating in the dissections of the ones who had died. Frémiet spent a great deal of his young life at this famous Paris zoological gardens, first being exposed to the many different wild animals as a student when he was only seven. Frémiet's ties to the Jardin de Plantes were further bonded when he was appointed to succeed Antoine Louis Barye as Professor of Drawing following Barye's death in 1875. Like so many of the great sculptors, Frémiet spent time studying and drawing at the morgue, as well as at various embalmers in Paris.
Frémiet exhibited his first sculpture in the Paris Salon in 1843 at the age of nineteen and he continued to exhibit at the annual Salon throughout his lifetime, wining numerous awards and medals. During the early part of his career Frémiet concentrated on editions of small animal bronzes which he cast himself in his own foundry. Frémiet received the first of his many state public commission for a monument in 1849 at the age of twenty-five and was to receive more commissions for public monuments than any other sculptor before or since his time.
Frémiet was much admired by many of his colleagues and was made Chevalier of the Legion d'Honneur in 1860. He became a member of the Academy in 1892; an honorary member of the Royal Academy in 1904.