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Antoine-Louis Barye - French Artist From Art History

Art History - Historical Artists > B > Antoine-Louis Barye


Historical Artist - Antoine-Louis Barye (1796 - 1875)

Originally trained as a goldsmith, Antoine-Louis Barye served in Napoleon’s army before studying sculpture and painting. He entered the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in 1818 and adapted the romantic-style subject matter of violent and majestic animals. After his crocodile-like sculpture entitled Tiger Devouring a Gavail, won a medal at the Salon of 1831, Barye became a successful and independent sculptor and painter. His animal sculptures competed at the Salon alongside the more traditional and revered human figures. In 1845, Barye began a foundry that produced smaller and more affordable bronze statues. He was appointed the keeper of plaster casts at the Louvre and professor of zoological drawing at the Musee National d’Histoire Naturelle, both in Paris. Elected to the Academie in 1868, Barye inspired a later generation of animal sculptors who called themselves the animaliers.

In 1831 he exhibited his "Tiger devouring a Crocodile", and in 1832 had mastered a style of his own in the "Lion and Snake." Thenceforward Barye, though engaged in a perpetual struggle with want, exhibited year after year these studies of animals--admirable groups which reveal him as inspired by a spirit of true romance and a feeling for the beauty of the antique, as in "Theseus and the Minotaur" (1847), "Lapitha and Centaur" (1848), and numerous minor works now very highly valued.

Barye was no less successful in sculpture on a small scale, and excelled in representing animals in their most familiar attitudes. Examples of his larger work include the "Lion of the Column of July," of which the plaster model was cast in 1839, various lions and tigers in the gardens of the Tuileries, and the four groups--"War, Peace, Strength, and Order" (1854).

In 1852 he cast his bronze "Jaguar devouring a Hare." Fame came late in the sculptor's life. He was made Professor of Drawings at the Museum of Natural History in 1854, and was elected to the Academy of Fine Arts in 1868. No new works were produced by Barye after 1869.

The mass of admirable work left by Barye entitles him to be regarded as one of the great animal life artists of the French school, and the refiner of a class of art which has attracted such men as Emmanuel Frémiet, Peter, Cain, and Gardet.

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