An impressive late 19th Century French bronze model in the romantic vein, its full title being 'The Centaur Teree carrying to his lair a bear taken in the Hemus Mountains'. The surface with excellent detail and muti-hued rich green colour, raised on integral naturalistic bronze base, signed E Fremiet
Emmanuel Frémiet (French, 1824 ~ 1910) Frémiet was born in Paris, he was a nephew and pupil of Sophie Frémiet, and later he became a pupil of her husband François Rude. He chiefly devoted himself to animal sculpture. His earliest work was in scientific lithography (osteology), and for a while he served in times of adversity in the gruesome office of painter to the Morgue. In 1843 he sent to the Salon a study of a Gazelle, and after that date worked prolifically. His “Wounded Bear” and “Wounded Dog” were produced in 1850, and the Luxembourg Museum at once secured this striking example of his work in the 1850s, Frémiet produced various Napoleonic works. He first exhibited in the Paris Salon at the age of nineteen with a sculpture of an Algerian gazelle. In 1853, Frémiet, “the leading sculptor of animals in his day” exhibited bronze sculptures of Emperor Napoleon III’s basset hounds at the Paris Salon. Soon afterwards, from 1855 to 1859 Frémiet was engaged on a series of military statuettes for Napoleon III, none of which have survived. He produced his equestrian statue of Napoleon I in 1868, and of Louis d’Orleans of 1869 (at the Château de Pierrefonds) and in 1874 the first equestrian statue of Joan of Arc, erected in the Place des Pyramides, Paris; this he afterwards (1889) replaced with another version. During this period he also executed “Pan and the bear cubs”, also acquired by the Luxembourg Museum and now in the Musée d’Orsay. He became a member of the Academy Francais in 1892 and an honorary member of the Royal Academy in 1904.
One of the most famous hybrid creatures of ancient mythology is the centaur, the horse-man of Greek legend. An interesting theory about the origin of the centaur is that they were created when people of the Minoan culture, who were unfamiliar with horses, first met tribes of horse-riders and were so impressed with the skill that they created stories of horse-humans. Inhabiting the Balkan mountains the Centaurs were often depicted fighting the powerful brown bears that shared their environment.
Whatever the origin, the legend of the centaur endured into Roman times, during which time there was a great scientific debate over whether the creatures indeed existed—much the way the existence of the yeti is argued today. And the centaur has been present in story-telling ever since, even appearing in the Harry Potter books and films.