Antoine-Louis BARYE (1795-1875)

Lot 78
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Estimation :
15000 - 30000 EUR
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Result : 98 908EUR
Antoine-Louis BARYE (1795-1875)
Antoine-Louis BARYE (1795-1875) Theseus fighting the Minotaur (first version). Bronze proof with brown patina. Early edition cast during the artist's lifetime. Signed on the terrace between Theseus' right foot and the rocks. Stamped BARYE. Dimensions: H. 45.3 cm ; W. 29.7 cm ; D. 16.3 cm Condition: slight oxidation at the base of the terrace. Bibliography: M. Poletti and A. Richarme, Barye, Catalogue raisonné des sculptures, Paris, 2000, pp. 106-7, no. F31. Provenance: South of France collection, descended to the present owner. The model for this work was created by Antoine-Louis Barye in 1843. Presented at the Salon of the same year, the work was rejected by the jury. However, the following year, it was praised by Besse et Cie, the major depository of Barye's bronzes, and presented in their catalog as: "Certainly, this is one of the most beautiful things, one of the most energetic figures that modern sculpture has produced; mastering his enemy and ready to tame him, the Greek hero has all the nobility, all the strength and all the pride that the fabulous character comprises" (Catalogue des bronzes de la maison Besse et Cie. Seul dépôt des bronzes de Barye, rue Choiseul, Paris, 1844). As early as 1855, a bronze proof of this first version was sold at the Exposition Universelle (now at the Victoria and Albert Museum). In 1890, the artist's biographer Roger Ballu described the group as "one of the masterpieces of Barye's genius, and very truly one of the masterpieces of French statuary" (R. Ballu, L'œuvre de Barye, Paris, 1890, p. 91). Here, Antoine-Louis Barye draws his inspiration from classical Greek art, treating this mythological subject with romantic force, through a composition in exaggerated X. The work is characterized by the quality and expressiveness of its details, such as the Minotaur's fingers digging into Theseus' flesh. Barye produced two versions of this sculpture. The first version, to which our print belongs, features a rectangular terrace, a signature between Theseus' right foot and the rock, and does not conceal the Minotaur's sexual attributes, unlike the second, more modest version with its profiled terrace. Given the presence of the BARYE stamp on the terrace (which ceased to be used after 1857), our work is probably one of the fifteen proofs of the first version printed up to 1857.
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