French sculptor, painter and printmaker, celebrated for his portrayal of animals.
He laid the basis of his extensive knowledge of animal forms while employed by a goldsmith making models of animals in the Jardin des Plantes, Paris (1823-31). His work was in the spirit of Romanticism , particularly his preference for rendering violent movement
and tense posture. He also did the pediment Napoleon dominating History and the Arts on the Pavilion de l Horloge of the Louvre and an equestrian statue of Napoleon at Ajaccio, the Emperor s birthplace in Corsica.
Although he was a successful monumental sculptor, he also created a considerable body of small-scale works and often made multiple casts of his small bronze designs,
marketing them for a middle-class public through a partnership, Barye & Cie. His interest in animal subjects is also reflected in his many watercolours. He thus challenged several fundamental values of the Parisian art world: the entrenched notion of a hierarchy of subject-matter in art, wherein animals ranked very low; the view that small-scale sculpture was intrinsically inferior to life-size or monumental work; and the idea that only a unique example of a sculptors design could embody the highest level of his vision and craft. As a result of his Romantic notion of sculpture, he won few monumental commissions and endured near poverty for many years.
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