Saulieu. The man with the bear, in the footsteps of François Pompon

The story between the actor and director Jérôme Robart and the sculptor François Pompon dates back to a few years ago. First there was the meeting between the work of the immense sculptor and the actor. “I discovered it while walking through the streets of Saulieu in 2016,” admits the latter. The project really took shape in 2019 when Jérôme Robart completed the performances of the Mary’s milk , the piece that sealed the artistic union between the actor and this part of the Côte-d’Or. He says: “The commune of the time of Saulieu came to see me to give me the order to write about François Pompon. After thinking, I accepted. The change of municipality in 2020 did not change anything, the ordinance was maintained. “

Three years of work

He has been working on the subject for three years, drawing a lot of information, in particular from the work of Léone Pia-Lachapelle, François Pompon, Burgundian sculptor, his life, his work. “My challenge is to evoke in 1h30 a key period in his life, between 1919 and 1922. It was during this time that he made a 30 cm life-size sculpture of a bear. This also corresponds to the time when his wife Berthe passed away (in 1921), ”he explains. He continues: “For me there are different dimensions in the piece. First of all there is the man François Pompon with his simplicity, which is enormous. Then, the fact that he has had a late glory and finally there is his love of him for the living, for the animals. He argues his point about him when asked which words are best suited to define the sculptor of Sédéloc: “he does not have a love for men but a love for animals. A true empathy for the living and immense humility. “

A comedy in two acts

His play, Jérôme Robart, conceived it in two acts. A so-called royal act and a so-called white act. He explains: “The so-called white act is a dream relationship, a reference to dance pieces composed in this way in the 19th century.And century. He continues: “In my writing, I first worked in reality and the meeting of François Pompon with René Demeurisse. It was he who placed it in the Autumn Salon of 1922, it was he who encouraged him to transform his bear. Between the two men, it was an immense story of friendship. On the stage of the Salle des Ursulines the audience will find solid actors and actresses( *) to bring this beautiful story to life.

“They are people I’m used to working with,” says Jérôme Robart. With whom things get done quickly. The first is scheduled for May 3.

* The man with the bear , written and directed by Jérôme Robart with Vincent Ozanon (François Pompon), Julie Pouillon (Berthe), Christophe Van de Velde (The Bear) and Raphaël Noble (René Demeurisse). PRACTICAL Tuesday 3, Wednesday 4, Thursday 5, Friday 6 and Saturday 7 May at 8 pm and Sunday 8 May at 4 pm, Salle des Ursulines in Saulieu. Reservations required at and by e-mail at

François Pompon loved animals, a true empathy for the living and immense humility.

Girolamo Robart

From the church of Saint-Saturnin to the Ursuline room

At first, The man with the bear it was to be played in the church of Saint-Saturnin, in Saulieu. Highly symbolic place since it is in the cemetery that surrounds the church that François Pompon and his wife are buried. Unfortunately, as Jérôme Robart confides, a little annoyed, «last Friday (April 15, ed), a building expert in France told us that the church tower could fall imminently and, consequently, it was not possible to carry out a show inside “. Faced with the urgency of the situation, he had to find a quick fallback solution. It is finally at the Salle des Ursulines, where the team rehearsals, that the six scheduled performances will take place. Beyond the symbol, it is a real blow because the capacity of the Ursuline room is half.


In 1919, after four years of a terrible war from which he miraculously got out alive, a young 25-year-old painter, René Demeurisse, was hired by a mother who had lost her son to create his tombstone. René Demeurisse therefore sets out to find a stonemason capable of transcribing his drawing into the marble of the tomb …

His search leads him to the 14th arrondissement of Paris in search of a craftsman.

The work evokes this very difficult period in the life of the Sédéloc sculptor François Pompon (1855-1933) until the creation of his White Bear of monumental dimensions and its exposure to the eyes of the world in 1922.

If the piece aspires to bring us intimately closer to François Pompon, to his thoughts, his emotions, to see him in front of us, it remains an interpretation …

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