“NAPOLEON 1er, 1812” PATINATED BRONZE BUST AFTER RENZO COLOMBO
Signed R. Colombo 1885 in shoulder, circa late 19th century
Item # 806RCP02A
A large and powerful bronze bust of Napoleon Bonaparte after the 1885 model by Renzo Colombo (Italian, 1856-1885), this example was likewise cast during the last quarter of the 19th century. Much of Colombo’s work, including numerous casts of Napoleon, were executed with seals either by Pinédo or with the Bronze Garanti Au Titre pastille - this example’s finish and patina are typical of Pinedo, but the work does not have a foundry seal to assist in firm identification. This bold example stands as one of Renzo Colombo’s finest and most popular works; in it he has depicted Emperor Napoleon as dignified and serious with his brow set firmly and his eyes intently focused. He shows a man of intense concentration and resolution in full dress under his bicorne hat while his personal standard, the Eagle, stands before him grasping a double torchiere in its sharp talons. The scene captures Napoleon prior to leading France to invade Russia in the summer of 1812, a campaign that severely damaged the French Empire and foreshadowed the collapse of his Grande Armée, eventually leading to Napoleon’s abdication of Paris in 1814. The present example is noteworthy for its extraordinary original red-oxide patina.
Born near Milan in 1856, Renzo Colombo studied sculpture under Giuseppe Knoller who took him under scholarship to the Brera Academy of Fine Art. In 1875 he exhibited a bust of Francesco Ferrucci and moved to Florence in 1878 to study under Giovanni Dupré. He moved to Genoa in 1880 and lived there for two years studying under Odoardo Tabacchi before moving to Paris, France. Here he met his wife and began exhibiting at the Salon in 1883, 1884 and finally in 1885 where he presented his most popular bronze: Napoleon I 1812, the powerful bust the present bronze bust is cast after. He was appointed artistic director of the Museé Grevin in Paris in 1884 and died the following year.
- Sotheby’s, 20 April 2007, Sale N08305, lot 271, $ 5400 USD, 23” H
- Christies, Sale 9519, 27 Nov 2002, lot 535 4700 GBP, 21 5/8” H
- Sotheby’s, 22 April 2010, Sale N08627, lot 82, $ 9375 USD, 22” H
- Sotheby’s, 1 April 2010, Sale N08623, lot 283, $ 7500 USD, 22” H
- Christies, Sale 8369, 31 May 2000, lot 171 $ 9,400 USD, 21” H
- Sotheby’s, 28-29 November 2006, Sale N08233, lot 53, $ 4800 USD, 22” H (Pinédo cast)
- Sotheby’s, 28-29 November 2006, Sale N08233, lot 52, $ 5100 USD, 23” H (Bronze Garanti Au Titre cast)
- Christies, Sale 1099, 10-11 July 2002, lot 257, $ 4780 USD, 21 1/2” H
- Christies, Sale 2473, 19-20 October 2011, lot 12, $ 5250 USD, 21 5/8” H (Bronze Garanti Au Titre cast)
- Sotheby’s, Sale L03503, lot 298, 11,400 GBP, 22” H (Pinédo cast)
- Bronzes of the Nineteenth Century: Dictionary of Sculptors, Pierre Kjellberg, 1994, p. 220
Measurements: 15” W x 9 1/4” D x 21 3/4” H
Original patina in excellent condition with minor handling wear and surface variation; patches to breast and back of his cap from lost-wax casting process, over time having oxidized and the outline has become visible.