One of my favorite anamalier artists is Clovis-Edmond Masson and along with Cartier I am particularly enchanted with their animals placed on rough granite outcroppings rather than traditional bronze bases. This is, as we describe for our shop tag, a c. 1900 Animalier Bronze of a lioness drinking from a river – the clasic work of Clovis-Edmond Masson (France, 1838-1913) using the conceit of sculpted raw granite as the base. A pupil of Barye, Rouillard and Santiago, he exhibited regularly at the Salon from 1867-1909. Held by many museums and serious anamalier collectors, his cats are exquisite yet powerful and presage the coming style of Art Deco. While there are anamalier artists of many nationalities–and while the tradition is very much alive today–the French “Anamalier Sculptors” from the mid-19 to early 20th centuries are a brilliant school unto themselves. Whether encountering the exquisite table pieces or the monumental garden pieces, the entire genre is enchanting.
To judge sculptural quality, always look the animal in the eyes–it should seem to look right back and breath! Watch out for the poor castings of fakes made in the last 50 years, often recognizable by several characteristics: a slab of marble/granite attached under the bronze base to hide the modern casting; a lack of detail in the chiseling; a muddy bronze finish.
Enjoy these photos of a wonderful Masson example!
What a tongue–wonderful power in every muscle–and note the care in the chiseling (the fine details created by hand with chisels once the bronze has cooled and before it receives its final finish.