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F. Barbedienne

Bronze-caster

(1810-1892)

attributed to

“Crotales Player” chandelier

France

Circa 1860

Height : 84 cm (33 in.) ; Diameter : 55 cm (21 2/3 in.)

A six-light arms chandelier, made in the Greek style in patinated -and gilded bronze, presenting in the middle of which a Greek dancer, wearing a lion skin and playing the crotales, sometimes called antique cymbals.

Biography

Born in 1810, died in Paris in 1892, Ferdinand Barbedienne, the most important caster of bronze pieces of art during the second half of the 19th Century, created and directed one of the principle artistic founderies of his day, installed 30 boulevard Poissonnière in Paris. Barbedienne specialised in classical reproductions and developed new chemical processes for colouring and patinating bronze. Their illustrated catalogues included many diverse objects such as busts, ornemental sculpture (clocks, candelabras, cups) sometimes even life-sized and also bronzes for furniture. Apart from his own production, Barbedienne worked for the most renowned sculptors such as Barrias, Bosio, Clésinger and Carrier-Belleuse. All his works were highly esteemed and he, himself honoured by contemporary critics. At the London exhibition in 1851 Barbedienne’s firm won two « Council medals ». At the 1855 Universal Exhibition, he won a medal of honour and eleven cooperator’s medals for the work of his co-workers. The success of Barbedienne’s firm brought him many official commissions, such in about 1860, as Barbedienne supplied bronzes for furniture for the Pompeian Villa of Prince Napoleon, located avenue Montaigne in Paris. At the London Universal Exhibition of 1862 Barbedienne won medals in three different categories : Furniture, Silversmith work and Artistic bronzes, combining for some pieces with onyx marble and enamel (Oriental style cup, Château de Compiègne, Inv. C 71-122). At the 1867 Universal Exhibition in his capacity as member of and speaker for the Jury, he was non-contestant, but exhibited nevertheless with great success. Barbedienne was made an officer of the Légion d’Honneur in 1867 and Commander in 1878 when he was compared with « a prince of industry and the king of bronze casting ». His glory did not decline with the passage of the time for at the Universal Exhibition of 1889 the critics thanked Barbedienne for the example he set for other bronze-casters by the perfection of his bronzes.

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