Gorgeous Bronze Statue of a Tiger Devouring A Gazelle by Antoine Louis BARYE.
The first edition of the incredible work was done in 1857 by Barye.
Our model is the ‘Seconde version’ as is referenced in the Poletti & Richarme ‘Barye Catalogue Raisonné des sculptures’, on page 208.
The original plaster model is currently part of the Fabius collection in Paris.
The sheer strength of the model is mesmerizing….the gazelle is particularly lovely and delicate, while the tiger’s study of muscles and expression are amazingly well rendered.
A true work of art…by the Artist that became known as the Master of the Animalier sculptors in 19th century Paris.
The life of Antoine-Louis Barye spans one of the most turbulent periods in French history. Born in revolutionary Paris on 24 September 1795, he lived through two empires, two revolutions and three republics, as well as the nightmare of the 1870-71 Franco-Prussian War. Like many of his Romantic colleagues, Barye’s work reflects the ferocity of his time, although it also captures the spirit of scientific inquiry that characterized nineteenth century Europe.
Barye’s early years were typical of a working class family; he learned his father’s craft of goldsmithing, and by 1808, at age 13, he was apprenticed to the military equipment engraver, Fourier. He subsequently worked for Napoleon’s goldsmith, Martin-Guillaume Biennais, learning every facet of metalwork from casting to engraving. At age 21, however, he entered the sculpture workshop of the neo-classical artist, François-Joseph Bosio, who had created the bas-reliefs for the Vendôme Column. This proved to be short-lived; Barye began studying painting a year later with Antoine-Jean Gros, and in 1818, he was accepted into the Ecole des Beaux-Arts.
During his five years at the Ecole, Barye distinguished himself with honors in 1819, 1820 and 1823, but equally important was the emergence of his aesthetic direction as an animalier, an artist specializing in the depiction of animals. The term was originally meant as an insult, mocking the small scale and “secondary” subject matter of Barye’s animal sculptures, but he and his contemporaries happily adopted the term. His inclination for this subject matter can be seen as early as 1819 in the engraved medallion of Milo of Croton Devoured by a Lion, the project that won him an honorable mention at the Ecole. Although ostensibly a portrayal of a classical academic subject—the 6th century BCE Greek athlete, Milo—Barye’s attention was riveted on the lion. His fascination with animals was reinforced as well by his work for the goldsmith, Jacques Henri Fauconnier, for whom he created animal figurines in order to meet his expenses during the 1820s.
In addition to his frequent sketching trips to the Jardin des Plantes where he could observe exotic animals directly, Barye’s intellectual curiosity increasingly led him to read the scholarly literature on zoology and natural history. In particular, he was well versed in the writing of the Comte de Lacépède, the natural scientist who headed the reptiles and fish section of the Jardin; and the innovative thinking of Georges Cuvier, who helped establish paleontology and comparative anatomy as independent fields of study. Barye also attended anatomy classes taught by Geoffroy St.-Hilaire, the chairman of the zoology department at the Musée National d’Histoire Naturelle—and the man most responsible for creating the zoo at which Barye found his inspiration. With this somewhat unusual, but remarkably sensible, training in zoological studies, Barye prepared himself thoroughly in his chosen subject matter, as well as in the artistic skills he would need for his career.
Barye’s talent for rendering dynamic tension and exact anatomical detail is especially evident in his most famous bronzes, those of wild animals struggling with or devouring their prey, as ithe case with our gorgeous sculpture.
Barye gradually gained a reputation as a monumental sculptor, with government commissions for images of wild animals in the 1830s, figure groups and portraits for the facade of the Louvre in the 1850s, and freestanding Napoleonic monuments in the 1860s. He first exhibited his bronzes at the Salons of 1827 and 1831, receiving a second prize for his Lion Devouring a Gavial. He withdrew from exhibiting in the Salon in the 1830s after a celebrated small-scale project was rejected as goldsmithery (i.e., not “high art”), but he returned in 1850, to great acclaim.
But fame would only come later in life. In 1854 he was made Professor of Drawings at the Museum d’Histoire Naturelle and was elected to the Academie des Beaux Arts in 1868.
Barye was responsible for improving the status of animal sculpture, a category famous since antiquity, and for demonstrating its suitability as a modern expressive form. He also gained special fame as an artist who, regardless of subject matter, could meld grandeur and artistic refinement with realism in both public monuments and small-scale bronzes for the home.
While Barye excelled at sculpture, he often faced financial burdens due to his lack of business knowledge. In 1848 he was forced to declare bankruptcy, and all of his work and molds were sold to a foundry. By 1869 Barye no longer produced new works.
After Barye’s death (which occurred in June 1875) in 1876 what remained of Barye’s inventory, 125 models, were sold to the Ferdinand Barbedienne foundry. The 1877 Barbedienne catalogue offered all of the models in bronze in variable sizes, and the Barbedienne castings were of superb quality.
Barye also held a passion for the art of the Patina with which he infused his sculptures, becoming known for his research in colors. A code which Ferdinand Barbedienne, thoroughly reflected.
Our sculpture is signed BARYE on the terrace in the front of the right forward paw of the tiger.
The sculpture was edited by the Barbedienne Foundry and is signed ‘F.Barbedienne.Fondeur’ close to the tail of the tiger.
The Brown patina is gorgeous, full of details and nuances, while the chiseling is outstanding in its precision and beauty.
Under the terrace the model is marked TT,43. 1258
The Walters Art Museum in Baltimore holds 1 example of the sculpture.