Born in Vendôme in 1878, Roger Godchaux appears as an artist with various talents, drawing and sculpting at will the objects that surrounded him. A pupil of Adler and Jérôme, he dealt with different themes in painting and sculpting with, concerning the latter, a special liking for the study of animal bestiary. His father, an antique dealer, instilled in him his taste for decoration, furniture and objects. Once settled in Paris, he brilliantly passed the entrance examination for the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in 1894 where, as a great admirer of Barye, he moved towards animal sculpture. Moreover he acquired a great many artworks from the artist’s workshop. In 1896, Godchaux entered the Académie Julian and a few years later exhibited his first works mainly devoted to big cats and elephants. Declared unfit for service in 1914, he was assigned to the ministry of war and put his drawing skills to the service of the Allies’ propaganda. After several exhibitions, he stood out with a bronze sculpture, ‘Elephant’, which was displayed at the Salon des Artistes Animaliers, in February 1928. Acquired by the State it established for Godchaux an international reputation. A friend of Valete and Susse, with whom he worked regularly at the Jardin des Plantes, he signed a contract with the Manufacture de Sèvres in 1937 for the edition of terracotta artworks. Forced to wear the yellow star, he went through difficult times during the years of war. Godchaux regained a stable life in 1946 and established a workshop located at 3, rue Vercingétorix in Paris. Although he created a few sculptures in direct cut, he preferred clay modelling which enabled him to have a finer work of the sculpture’s surfaces (slanted grooves, smoothing).
The clay and wax pellets he used to perfect the volumes of his sculptures are depicted in relief on his bronze artist’s proofs, as a signature.