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Irénée René Rochard (French, 1906 ~ 1984) – born in Villefranche sur Saône in 1906, his mother was a painter and his brother was the actor-singer Armand Mestral. Rochard chose the course of an artist’s life and turned to animal sculpture in order, as he used to say “pay tribute to animals”. On leaving the École des Beaux-Arts at the age of 22, he won first prize for a life-size panther sculpture and many other prizes and awards followed throughout his career. In the 1920’s Rochard frequently met with other animal sculptors, including François Pompon and Edouard Sandoz.
Rochard not only sculpted in bronze but also in ceramic wood, granite and marble. He became adept at giving his subjects a fluid realism that brought out their personality, their gentleness or their fierceness. He created hundreds of animals in their daily attitudes with such a delicacy that we feel we are witnessing a frozen moment in time.