Antoine Louis, Barye


Hardly classifiable - at once classic, naturalistic and romantic - Barye is distinguished by his ability to "express movement". His apprenticeship begins with his father, goldsmith in Lyon and Martin Guillaume Biennais, master goldsmith of Napoleon.

He is also enrolled in the workshop of the sculptor Bosio and the painter Antoine Jean, Baron Gros. His sketches and drawings are the basis of his work as a sculptor.

A friend of Delacroix, he finds his inspiration at the Menagerie du Museum. His biographers describe the sculptor as drawing hours in front of the cages of lions and tigers. But the most original is that he attends the dissections performed in laboratory anatomy. It is there that he will learn to concretely render nature: silky furs that the spectator thinks he can touch, seizures of movements, reproduction in the same way of the wild temperament of the wild animals: we guess their musculature under their skin.

His rise following the Salon of 1833, will be worth it to be jealous by other artists. In 1836, the government ordered the iconic sculpture of the column of July Place de la Bastille and it is to him that we owe the representation of St. Clothilde in the Church of the Madeleine in Paris.

If Barye is an excellent sculptor, he is also a very good craftsman who watches with great precision the manufacture of his bronzes. He gave life to his models by different techniques. First of all, its patinas, tones of light brown to red give in the strategic places a particular movement. By carefully observing the bronzes, we notice small reliefs that do not involve a work of carving after the melt but which are inherent to the initial model. For a time, he teamed up with an industrialist specializing in cast iron, Emile Martin.

On the market today, there is a lot of testing, the majority of which are either of poor quality or fake. The models that are most likely to be of good quality are those made by Barye as a publisher, he then affixed his stamp.

At the death of the sculptor, his studio is sold and sold at auction. Brame and Barbedienne buy back a large part of the fund and continue to produce. The prints made after the death of the artist represent 80% of the supply today.

Before any purchase, it is important to observe the details of the carving work and the stamps that may indicate the origin of the cast. We must also weigh the piece, too heavy bronze is often synonymous with poor quality.