Reduction no. 1 of Pompon's polar bear in Lens limestone, this 1925 model is a rarity.
Though François Pompon's plantigrade needs no introduction, this model has assets that make it particularly desirable. It is the heir to the Ours blanc presented by the artist at the Salon d’Automne of 1922. Pompon began to make reduced replicas of it in 1925. The man who liked his sculpture "with no holes or shadows" opted for pale Lens stone, whose creamy-white tones evoke the colour of the bear's pelt. This oolitic limestone has a very fine, even grain, ideal for the light to caress the animal's volumes. Extracted from the Moulézan quarries in the Gard region, it has been known for its remarkable qualities since Antiquity. The artist made thirteen replicas, using the pointing technique to carve them directly, while continuing to seek the best walking posture and ideal aesthetic. Each copy thus differs slightly from the others. With this one, no. 1, we can see that Pompon has altered the original model by eliminating the space between the right fore and hind paws, giving rise to a version that went on changing up to 1927-1928. This first replica, remarkable for its size, was commissioned by Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann in 1924 and delivered the following year. It appeared in the animal art exhibition staged at the gallery in Rue de Lisbonne, and was then displayed at the collector's private mansion, the pavilion created by the interior designer for the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts on the esplanade of Les Invalides. The bear enchanted a Parisian art lover, who bought it on the spot. It has remained in his family ever since.