January 6 is the birthday of Naoum Lvovich Aronson, sculptor who worked in the first half of the 20th century
Naoum Lvovich Aronson was born on the territory of the Russian Empire, in a place called Kreslavka in the Vitebsk province. At the time his birthday fell on December 25, 1872, Julian calendar was used in Russia. Today many things changed - this date in the Gregorian calendar corresponds to January 6, and the former Kreslavka became the city of Krāslava in Latvia.
Naoum Aronson lived 70 eventful years. He came from a Jewish family, spent most of his life in Paris, died in New York, but his life was almost always closely connected with Russian culture.
After studying at the Vilnian drawing school for two years, Aronson left for Paris in 1891 — practically without money, not knowing French, but having a great desire to study further and dedicate his life to sculpture. To attend paid classes at Académie Colarossi, Aronson worked as a stonecutter in sculptural workshops.
Aronson's own workshop was located in the Vaugirard Street, 93 - not far from the Montparnasse. Paris was the world capital of art in the early 20th century, and the Montparnasse was its heart. Pablo Picasso, Amadeo Modigliani, Constantin Brâncuși and many others lived and worked there. Marc Chagall, Chaïm Soutine and Vladimir Lenin were the guests in his workshop. Aronson was so interested in Lenin's appearance that the sculptor asked for the opportunity to make his portrait.
This was not the only case when Aronson himself initiated the creation of a portrait. In 1901, the sculptor went to Yasnaya Polyana to make a portrait of Lev Tolstoy. On June 14 of that year, Sophia Andreevna Tolstaya wrote in her diary “The sculptor Aronson, a poor Jew, who has emerged into a talented sculptor for eight years in Paris, sculpts the bust of Lev Nikolaevich and mine, Tanya bas-relief and everything not bad”. Aronson repeatedly visited Russia; among his other portraits are the images of Ivan Turgenev, Afanasy Fet, actresses Maria Savina and Vera Komissarzhevskaya, ballerina Ida Rubinstein.
In 1917–1922, by order of the French government, Aronson performed more than ten busts of Louis Pasteur, which were mounted to commemorate the scientist’s 100th anniversary in the Pasteur Institute garden in Paris, Tokyo, Brussels, Saigon, Hanoi and Leningrad.
Louis Pasteur bust created by Aronson is stored in the Museum Collection as well.
Another theme that attracted the sculptor were the images of composers and musicians. Portraits of Ludwig van Beethoven and Frédéric Chopin are stored in the Museum.
Besides, Aronson masterfully worked with different materials - many of his works were cast in bronze, but he often created sculptures made of marble - such as, for example, “Nude” and “Head of a girl in a scarf”, which are part of the Museum Collection.