A fabulous late 19th Century French bronze study of a powerful steed being ridden by a young lad with extremely fine hand chased surface detail and rich brown patina. Raised on an integral naturalistic dome shaped base, signed Fremiet.
If Fremiet’s fame was not sufficiently established by his gilded bronze Jeanne d’Arc Equestre in the Plaza of Pyramides in Paris, he would still be known for many other very interesting pieces, on two essential themes; animals and historical or fictional characters of the past. Descended from a Bourgognese family, Fremiet received his first lessons from his aunt, Sophie Fremiet- also known as Mme Rude, the wife of the famous sculptor. He also studied at the Petite Ecole (which later became the Ecole Nationale des Arts Decoratifs) and in the studio of the painter Jacques Christope Werner, before entering Rude’s studio. At the same time, he familiarised himself with animals and acquired a solid knowledge of anatomy by frequenting the Jardin des Plantes and the Museum, as did many of his contemporaries.
Fremiet’s skill, widely renowned during his lifetime, won him numerous commissions. His historical accuracy is appreciable, as is his meticulous precision in rendering animals, human faces and clothing. “M.Fremiet,” reads the report of the international jury of the Exposition Universelle of 1900, “is one of those rare artists in whom talent is complemented by profound attention to craft.” The same text explains that he prepares his models himself, “attends to reductions, supervises the chiseling, and finally, decides the patinas.. His small bronzes are the joyously delicate, his animals are exquisite, his statuettes in gilded and silvered bronze are of a precious forcefulness,’ wrote Louis Gonse.
Despite his untiring activity, great success and many honours, Emmanuel Fremiet lived an entirely simple and quiet family life. In a discourages moment, at the beginning of the war of 1870, he considered abandoning sculpture. Finally, at the end of this period, he carried out his most important commissions. Name, in 1875, professor at the Museum of Natural History, replacing Barye, he was elected to the Academie des Beaux-Arts in 1892.
Fremiet made his debut at the Salon of 1843 with a study of a gazelle in plaster. During nearly a dozen years, he exhibited animals almost exclusively, in was, terra cotta and plaster as well as bronze.
“You seem to have heard.” Fremiet later wrote in response to a critique, “that I have made only some cats and other animals. Permit me, in an attempt to enlighten you, to send you a list of works I have produce beyond the speciality in which you appear to want to enclose me.” Despite the sculptor’s protestations, the animal occupies a considerable place in his work. They are also found combined with human figures in many groups, as in the equestrian figures.
Much impressed by the musculature and prodigious strength of large animals, particularly of bears and monkeys, Fremiet portrays them regularly as victors in struggles with man.
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