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The Flexibility of Rembrandt Bugatti’s Deer

On 27 August 2021, by Christophe Provot

Passing away prematurely, at the age of 31, Rembrandt Bugatti (1884-1916) left behind a rich body of work from his twelve-year career, comprising some 300 animal sculptures.

The Flexibility of Rembrandt Bugatti’s Deer
 

One of his favorite subjects was the deer, which he spent many hours studying during his daily visits to the menagerie at the Jardin des Plantes, in Paris, beginning in 1903, where he knew the animals by name. Perhaps this was the case for this Young Deer Scratching its Neck, in bronze, estimated at €100,000/150,000 up for sale by Oger-Blanchet at Drouot on October 27. An original statue from a series of just five works, the plaster cast of which is housed at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Lyon, it bears the stamp of Adrien Hébrard. It was this caster who suggested that Bugatti number his bronzes: this piece is the second in its series. As ever, the animal is extraordinarily realistic. Bugatti was accustomed to working on the spot, modeling plastiline (a mixture of powdered clay and wax, which does not dry) onto wire frames. He demanded a lot of himself and only allowed a single attempt for each sculpture, or else he would destroy the entire thing and start from scratch.

A Truer-Than-Life Bugatti Deer

On 21 October 2021, by Claire Papon

Sculpted around 1906, this young stag scratching its neck comes from a limited run of five copies. It once again proves the genius of Rembrandt Bugatti and his fondness for these animals.

A Truer-Than-Life Bugatti Deer

Rembrandt Bugatti (1884–1916), Jeune cerf se grattant le cou (Young deer scratching Its neck), c. 1906, bronze proof with a black patina, Hébrard lost wax, numbered two in a limited run of five copies, h. approximately 25 cm/9.84 in, base 32 x 11.5 cm/ 12.60 x 4.52 in.
Estimate: €100,000/150,000

Far from the hieratic and quiet strength of his wild animals, which Rembrandt Bugatti started to sculpt as early as 1903, his deer are often represented, in groups or alone, in positions brimming with the gentleness, serenity and spontaneity. This one is engaged in everyday activity, and Bugatti’s bare-handed modeling technique contributes to the impression of lifelikeness. His visible touch causes light to vibrate on the deer’s coat. The artist’s works are not modeled but molded on the subject and keep the trace of his gestures, fingers and tools. Here, the state of the antlers, lost after the rutting season, suggests that the young stag was depicted in early spring.

Bugatti had a meteoric career. He died prematurely at the age of 31, ten years after exhibiting at the Salon des beaux-arts, where Rodin had noticed him. He nevertheless had the time to create true-to-life sculptures thanks to spending long hours observing wildlife at the Jardin des Plantes in Paris and the Antwerp Zoo, then the world’s largest. Born into a stimulating artistic family—his father was a decorator and architect Carlo Bugatti, his brother automobile designer Ettore—this eccentric, solitary dandy, whose roots were in Milan, was introduced to art at a very early age. His mentors were his uncle, part-Symbolist, part-Impressionist painter Giovanni Segantini, and Russian prince and sculptor Paul Troubetzkoy, a family friend.

This bronze belonged to Émile Chouanard (1861–1930) and his descendents. Chouanard, an engineer and head of the machine-tool business Les Forges de Vulcain, collected modern paintings, André Metthey’s ceramics and one of the world’s largest collections of bronzes by Rodin and Bugatti together in his Paris apartment on avenue Montaigne. In 1919 he gave a Bugatti elephant to the musée des beaux-arts in Rennes, which had housed his collection for safekeeping during the First World War.

Wednesday 27 October 2021 - 14:00 - Live
Salle 10 - Hôtel Drouot - 75009
Oger - Blanchet , Mathias - Bournazel
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