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ref. 1444/11 & 1444/12

P. J. Mène

After
Sculptor and bronze caster
(1801-1879)

Hunting Dogs

France
19th century
Height: 11 cm (4,3 in.); Width: 12 cm (4,7 in.); Depth:7,2 cm (2,8 in.)

Pair of brown shaded patina bronze sculptures on marble stands, representing two hunting dogs at rest.

These models of a fine technique illustrate a will of representing the animal as accurately as possible, in a realistic and familiar pose.

Mène is considered as the greatest animal sculptor of the 19th century, after Barye.

Hunting is very present in Mène’s work, generating very fine-tuned compositions where man and animal are often associated: « A hunting valet leading his herd », « Hunting in Scotland, the fox’s catch », « Arab falconer on horseback », « A valet and his dog », etc.

Biography

Pierre-Jules Mène was born in Paris in 1810. He learned the first steps of sculpture and bronze casting from his father who was a metal craftsman. Later on, after several lessons given by the sculptor Compaire, Mène specialized in animal sculpture.

Like Barye, he was committed into representing animals as accurately as possible and went regularly to the zoo to watch his subjects.

He took part for the first time in the « Salon » in 1938 et rapidly gained success. He kept showcasing et won many medals; in 1861, he was awarded the Légion d’honneur (Legion of Honour).

In 1938, Mène opened his own foundry at rue du Faubourg-du-Temple, Paris, to produce his models himself. Later on, he lead it  with his son-in-law, the sculptor Caïn. He produced there, from 1838 until 1877, bronze sculptures of a fine quality, handling personnally the casting and the chiselling.

Mène’s work is inspired of the universe of domestic animals (horses, cows, bulls, sheeps, dogs) as well as wild ones (deers, jaguars, panthers). Along with his success in France, Mène became famous in Great Britain where he took part in exhibitions from 1851 until 1862. His works were particularly wanted by the English public and a large amount of his sculptures was exported across the Channel.

Although he was very popular at this time, Mène received only few official orders. After his death, many of his sculptures were produced by Caïn and then by the Susse Frères foundry, who acquired his models at the end of the 19th century, in 1894. Therefore these bronze sculptures bear the double signature of the artist and the caster.

His works are showcased in museums worldwide and, beside the Louvre, the museums of Oxford and Melbourne own significant collections.

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