Thanks to his father who was a stonemason specialised in restoring gallo-roman monuments, Joseph Bernard became familiar and learned how to sculpt very young. He first exhibited classical subjects at the Salon des Artistes Français in 1892, slowly drifting into more of a monumental inspiration, his figures became hieratic and his works became more stylized. In 1905 he was considered to be of those who reformed the art of direct carving, a method of which he was particularly fond of. The passion for greco-roman he inherited from his father influenced his works, therefore making him one of the forerunners of the renewal of antiquity, a movement which will reach its peak with the rise of neoclassicism in 1937. If his classical and neoclassical styles are admitted by all, when it comes to Art Déco, specialists bear nuanced opinions, some simply assimilating him to the movement and others elevating him to the rank of an inspirer of the Art Déco style. He was strongly in favour of direct carving, which reflects his will to stick to the traditional methods. He took great care in adapting his methods to the materials he worked on, even if it should give an unexpected result. Either way, he was said to be 'the master of his hand'.