Ferdinand Barbedienne (10 January 1810 – 21 March 1892) was a French metalworker and manufacturer, who was well known as a bronze founder.
The son of a small farmer from Calvados, he started his career as a dealer in wallpaper in Paris. In 1838 he went into partnership with Achille Collas (1795-1859), who had just invented a machine to create miniature bronze replicas of statues. Together they started a business selling miniatures of antique statues from museums all over Europe, thus democratising art and making it more accessible to households. From 1843 they extended their scope by reproducing the work of living artists and also diversified by making enamelled household objects. With the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian war in 1870 the firm briefly had to switch to cannon founding owing to the shortage of metals but resumed business afterwards. Following Barbedienne's death in 1892, he was buried in the Père-Lachaise cemetery and the firm was carried on by his nephew Gustave Leblanc until 1952.
(or according to bronze-gallery.com and most general findings copied as such:)
The F. Barbedienne foundry was started in Paris in 1838 by Ferdinand Barbedienne and Achille Collas, who was the inventor of a machine that would mechanically reduce statues. They at first produced bronze reductions of antique sculptures of Greek and Roman origin. Their first contract to produce bronzes modeled by a living artist was made in 1843 when they arranged to produce the works of Francois Rude. They barely survived the revolution and financial collapse of 1848 which caused many artists and foundries to declare bankruptcy. Barbedienne actively pursued contracts with the many sculptors of Paris contracting with David D'Angers, Jean-Baptiste Clesinger, and even producing some casts for Antoine Louis Barye as well as others.
Achille Collas died in 1859 leaving Ferdinand Barbedienne as the sole owner of the foundry which by that time had grown to employ over 300 workers at their workshop located at 63 Rue de Lancry in Paris. Ferdinand Barbedienne was made the President of the Reunion of Bronze Makers in 1865 a post he held until 1885. The outbreak of the Franco-Prussian war in 1870 and the shortage of raw metals caused him to have to stop making sculptures but he did receive a contract from the French government for the production of cannons which kept his foundry open. After the war he resumed his casting of sculptures and put even more effort into signing contracts with various sculptors.
Barbedienne Purchased 125 casting models from the late Antoine Louis Barye's sale in 1876. He set about casting and selling editions of these sculptures which was very successful, devoting an entire catalogue to these works. Ferdinand Barbedienne died on March 21, 1891 and was mourned by many in the world of sculpture. It was said that he strove to the highest quality in his castings Albert Susse said of him that he was the "pride of the nation" and that that he "carried the splendor of our industry so loftily to all international competitions". The running of the foundry was taken over by Gustave Leblanc, a nephew, and continued the high standards set by M. Barbedienne. The foundry set up agencies in Germany, Britain, and the United States to market their production. Leblanc actively purchased models and production rights form sculptors including Auguste Rodin and the estates of sculptures including Emmanuel Fremiet. The foundry continued under the stewardship of M. Leblanc until 1952.
additionally (from artfact.com)
(b Saint-Martin-de-Fresnay, Calvados, 10 Jan 1810; d Paris, 21 March 1892). French metalworker and manufacturer. The son of a farmer, he was apprenticed in 1822 to a Parisian papermaker. By 1834 Barbedienne was a successful wallpaper manufacturer; his original intention had been to reproduce ‘masterpieces from Antiquity and the Renaissance’. In 1838 he changed his profession, becoming a founder, and went into partnership with Achille Collas (1795–1859), who had invented a method for making reductions of sculpture. The firm, called Collas & Barbedienne, specialized in reproductions of antique and modern sculpture and eventually employed about 300 artists and workers, who produced as many as 1,200 subjects, including the work of Michelangelo, Luca della Robbia and Antoine-Louis Barye, as well as making busts of historical notables (e.g. Voltaire and Benjamin Franklin). By 1850 the firm was also producing a wide range of decorative objects—chandeliers, vases and furniture—in a variety of revival styles (e.g. Néo-Grec, Gothic and Louis XVI). Between 1850 and 1854 the firm provided furnishings in the Renaissance Revival style for the Hôtel de Ville, Paris. From 1851 the firm, by then known as Barbedienne, received numerous medals at the international exhibitions, including medals in three different classes at the International Exhibition of 1862 in London. Barbedienne’s work in enamel, which was at the forefront of the revival of enamelwork in France in the 19th century, was shown for the first time at this exhibition (e.g. gilt metal vase with champlevé enamel, c. 1862; London, V&A). In 1886 he was awarded the Jean Goujon Gold Medal by the Société d’Encouragement pour l’Industrie Nationale. The business was carried on by Barbedienne’s nephew after his death.
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