25 March 1810|
21 May 1879 (aged 69)|
|Notable work||L'Accolade; Cerf à la branche; Ibrahim, cheval arabe|
Pierre-Jules Mêne (25 March 1810 – 20 May 1879) was a French sculptor and animalière. He is considered one of the pioneers 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, Paul-Edouard Delabrierre, Pierre Louis Rouillard, Antoine-Louis Barye, his son-in-law 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 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. The lost-wax casting method is sometimes referred to as the cire perdue method.
Copies, forgeries and reproductions
Because Mêne was so prolific and because so many editions of his works were made, his work is sometimes devalued in the current market, and forgeries and reproductions of his works abound. However, original, period pieces cast during his lifetime continue to bring good prices at auction. Russian foundries are known to have copied Mêne's work. These castings can be recognized by the appearance of a small plaque, inscribed in Cyrillic, most often found on the underside of the base of the sculpture.
Death and legacy
Mêne died on 20 May 1879 in Paris, France. He is remembered as one of the finest, and certainly the most prolific, animalier sculptors of all time.
There are no known photographs or portraits of Mêne known to exist.
- 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).
- Mackay, James, The Animaliers, E.P. Dutton & Co., Inc, 1973
- Kjellberg, Pierre (1994). Bronzes of the 19th Century (First ed.). Atglen, Pennsylvania: Schiffer Publishing, Ltd. p. 471. ISBN 0-88740-629-7.
- Payne, Christopher (1986). Animals in Bronze - Reference and Price Guide (First ed.). Woodbridge, Suffolk, England: Antique Collectors. p. 43. ISBN 0-907462-45-6.
- Payne, Christopher (1986). Animals in Bronze - Reference and Price Guide (First ed.). Woodbridge, Suffolk, England: Antique Collectors. p. 39. ISBN 0-907462-45-6.