Pierre-Jules Mêne

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Tachiani and Nedjebé, Arab Horses by Pierre-Jules Mêne (1851).

Pierre Jules Mêne (25 March 1810 – 20 May 1879) was a French Sculptor and animalière. He is considered the pioneer of animal sculpture in the nineteenth-century.

Mêne produced a number of animal sculptures, mainly of domestic animals including horses, cows and bulls, sheep and goats which were in vogue during the Second Empire. He was one of a school of French animalières which also included Rosa Bonheur, Pierre Louis Rouillard, Antoine-Louis Barye, Auguste Caïn, and François Pompon.

His work was first shown in London by Ernest Gambart in 1849. Mêne specialized in small bronze figures which explains why none of his works exist as public statuary. His work was a popular success with the bourgeois class and many editions of each sculpture were made, often to decorate an increasing number of private homes of the period. The quality of these works is high, comparable to Barye's. Mêne also seems to have enjoyed a longer period of success and celebrity than his contemporaries. He is considered to have been the lost-wax casting expert of his time, later surpassed only by Auguste Rodin.

Because Mêne was so prolific and because so many editions of his works were made, his work is devalued in the current market, and forgeries of his works abound.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Catalogue raisonné of Pierre-Jules Mêne by Michel Poletti and Alain Richarme (Paris, 1998). Catalogues 240 models with a history of editions from 1838 to 1933; biography; context of life and work in Second Empire Paris (in French).

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