Portrait of Abel Maître

Abel Maître, a sculptor taught by Antoine-Louis Barye, was head of the restoration and casting workshop at the musée gallo-romain from 1866 until 1896.

© MAN

A pioneer in the restoration of metallic archaeological objects, Abel Maître led the first restoration and casting workshop at the musée gallo-romain.

From casting to archaeology

A French sculptor and former pupil of Antoine-Louis Barye, from 1861, Abel Maître assisted Alexandre Bertrand at the Commission de Topographie des Gaules. His role was to produce casts. In 1864, on the impetus of Auguste Verchère de Reffye, one of Napoleon III’s ordnance officers, a “Workshop for the reproduction of archaeological objects established under the patronage of the Emperor” opened at 47 rue de Sèvres in Paris. The casts made were sent to the musée gallo-romain to add to its collections.

A maker serving museography

Abel Maître joined the musée gallo-romain in April 1866 as inspector of workshops and stayed until 1896. He contributed to the creation of the museum, producing numerous models, such as those of dolmens on display in room 3, as well as casts of large ancient monuments, such as the arc d’Orange. He also worked with Verchère de Reffye and took part in experiments with reconstructions of antique arms, whose demonstrations at Saint-Germain-en-Laye were a great success. In 1869, alongside CTG correspondent Édouard Flouest, he took part in excavations of the site of Magny-Lambert