At the Fine Sale on 29th and 30th September, Cheffins will be offering an important private collection of twelve bronzes by Antoine-Louis Barye, consigned from Lancashire.

Known as ‘the father of the Animalier movement,’ sculptures by Barye have a worldwide appeal amongst collectors, with prices often achieving well into the thousands. Born in Paris in 1796, Barye was to become a renowned sculptor, painter and printmaker. The son of a jeweller, Barye had a keen eye for craftsmanship and detail from a young age. He worked as an apprentice for an engraver of military equipment at only 13 years old, before going on to complete his training with Martin-Guillaume Biennais, the master goldsmith to Napoleon, allowing him exposure to antique and Neoclassical models, which proved to be an inspiration throughout his life.

Lion au Serpent, by Antoine-Louis Barye, estimate £3,000 - £5,000, available at the Cheffins Fine Sale on 29th and 30th September

As his career developed, Barye went on to be patronised by King Louis Philippe I from 1830 onwards, who commissioned from him a surtout de table of five hunting scenes and four combatant animal depictions, which dramatically increased the interest in his work. Before long he was receiving commissions from patrons across France and the United States, leading to him being dubbed the ‘Michaelangelo of the menagerie.’ As the political landscape changed across France, he later created a partnership to make and sell his bronzes, with students within his atelier including the likes of August Rodin.

Barye is best known for sculptures depicting animals and mythological subjects and had an extraordinary ability to combine realism with the refinement of a master craftsman, both in terms of public monuments right through to commercial small-scale bronzes. As Barye’s life was plagued with financial stress, he sold his entire inventory and rights to the production of bronzes, plasters and models to the Barbedienne foundry in 1876. This led to wide-scale production of his pieces which went on to be sold worldwide.  

Ours dans son Auge, by Antoine-Louis Barye, estimate £3,000 - £5,000, available at the Cheffins Fine Sale on 29th and 30th September

When it comes to the market for Barye’s work, there is a strong base of collectors who seek out early casts of his atelier works. Barye’s drawings and studies for his sculptures can also achieve strong prices, many of which were from observations of animals at the Jardin des Plantes in Paris. Today, Barye’s works are held in major collections across the world, including in the Louvre, Paris, the Hirshhorn Museum, the National Gallery in London and in the Art Institute of Chicago. He was recognised as one of the leading lights of the animalier movement and is considered by many as a key link between 19th century Romanticism and Realism. Early cast bronzes from Barye are rare to the market and the vendor of the collection on offer this month had carefully selected these works, sourced through auction over a period of around fifteen years.

Cheval Turc, by Antoine-Louis Barye, estimate £3,000 - £5,000, available at the Cheffins Fine Sale on 29th and 30th September

Offered within the collection are four versions of ‘Lion Au Serpent,’ of varying sizes, which have estimates ranging from £700 to £3,000. There are also two beautiful studies of bears and three of other big cats, all selected for their wonderful patina. Similarly, there is a bronze titled ‘Cheval Turc’ from the Barbedienne foundry and an early version of ‘Elephant du Senegal.’ A collection of this quality, with such early cast and well-patinated versions of the sculptures are a rarity to the market, and we expect this to be of interest to both private collectors and trade buyers alike.

To view the Barye sculptures in the sale, please click here.