Antoine-Louis Barye (French, 1795-1875) Éléphant du Sénégal (Senegalese Elephant) charging elephant.
signed ‘BARYE’, stamped ‘F. BARBEDIENNE. PARIS’ Gilt gold patina on a green marble plinth.
Measures: Height 2.75 inches (7 cm) Width 4 inches (10.25 cm) On marble stand (3.4 x 4.5 inches)
Conceived in 1874. This bronze, circa 1890. Antoine Louis Barye Barye elephant “The Michelangelo of the Menagerie” These are the words of Théophile Gautier in praise of Barye’s genius. Throughout his life Barye endeavored to capture the fundamental nature of the animal kingdom in all its diversity, wild or tame, exotic or familiar, cruel or gentle, bringing to life the roaring, trembling, living beasts.
The son of a goldsmith, apprenticed to a steel engraver at a young age, Barye found himself making moulds for ornaments, acquiring knowledge that he would later build on to produce his exquisitely chased bronzes. When he was called up at seventeen, he joined the army’s topographic brigade where he used clay to model raised relief maps. When the Empire fell, Barye briefly studied with the sculptor François-Joseph Bosio, then moved to the studio of painter Antoine-Jean Gros. There he encountered a burgeoning Romanticism that seemed closer to his own aspirations and penchant for drawing, something that would become a major part of his life’s work.