Cheval Turc by Antoine-Louis Bayre

A bronze sculpture, Cheval Turc No. 3, after Antoine-Louis Barye

p4A ItemID D9972311
A nineteenth century bronze sculpture, Cheval Turc No. 2, by the French artist Antoine-Louis Barye

p4A ItemID D9750452

Cheval Turc

Cheval Turc No. 2 (anterieur gauche leve, terrasse carree) is a bronze sculpture of a dramatically posed horse by the French sculptor Antoine-Louis Barye. Its title translates as Turkish Horse (left leg raised).

Barye sculpted the first example of this work circa 1840 and made three further models, including Numbers 2 (cast circa 1857 to 1875) and 3 (cast circa 1870 and after) These editions varied by which leg was raised off the ground, whether the horse’s bowing head joins its chin with its neck, and the configuration of the base, among other points.

Cheval Turc is considered by many authorities to be the single most important and finest animal sculpture of the nineteenth century. It was seen as epitomizing the Romantic Movement, then so wildly popular. In 1844 Barye began marketing his work in smaller sizes directly to the public through the catalogue of the foundry Maison Besse & Cie. The author of that first catalogue with Barye’s work enthusiastically praised the Cheval Turc: ‘This horse fully at liberty, freely inhaling the air through its nostrils; proudly raising its head as though neither death nor enslavement could ever be its fate; this horse soothes our eye and spirit, chasing off any disheartening thought; the only feeling that one can experience upon seeing it is a deep admiration both for one of nature’s most beautiful and most noble creatures and for the talent of its delineator’.

In the 1830′s and early 40′s Barye cast most his work himself in his own studio, a rarity among 19th century sculptors. When he turned to marketing more small scale works to the public in larger editions he used the Besse foundry and other Parisian craftsmen. Barye died in 1875 and the next year the famed foundry of Ferdinand Barbedienne purchased 125 casts from his estate and began a long and extremely successful production run of Barye’s work, eventually giving the artist’s work their own catalogue.

Reference note by p4A editorial staff, 06.09.

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