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  • Rare Jules Moigniez Bronze Model of Two Fighting Sparrows c. 1867
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Rare Jules Moigniez Bronze Model of Two Fighting Sparrows c. 1867

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"Combat de Deux Moineaux", model c. 1867
Item # 710NBU10P

A work that displays the skill of Moigniez in the subject of birds perhaps better than any other model, this sculpture is defined not only by it's intensity and photographic level of realism but also in the superior finishing work.  The sculpture is chased and filed with such precision, leaving the viewer to wonder just how many hours the foundry would have to spend to productively cast and complete such a masterpiece.  Every aspect of each sparrow's body is perfectly rendered, every feather crisply chased both above and below the wings.  The claws remain sharp enough to cut, the beaks both crisp and thin.  Beyond the technical accomplishment, the subject is magnetic.  The intensity of the scene is so well modeled as to make the viewer a part of the moment, one that would be moving so quickly in nature that it can only really be imagined.  The naturalistic base is handsomely formed with vines and foliage, a clump of crushed grasses and rocky ground - Moigniez showed care in making the base simple enough as to not detract from the scene, as has been a criticism in some of his other bird groups where the foliage overtakes the sculpture.  

Signed "J. Moigniez" along the left side of the base, this particular work was exhibited at Salon in 1867.  Finished in a complex brown, black and red patina, the work is a cherished and most elusive find for the serious collector.

Born at Senlis in 1835, Jules Moigniez first debuted at Salon in 1855 with two plaster groups: a small hawk quarreling with a weasel over a sky-lark and a Setter grabbing a Pheasant. Receiving a medal at the Great Exhibition of 1862, he continued exhibiting at Salon regularly until 1881. Of great fortune to Moigniez, allowing him to maintain precise control over the quality of the bronzes cast during his lifetime, was the skill of his father as a gilder and caster of metals - his father established a bronze foundry in 1857 to cast his son's sculptures, the quality of which are generally acknowledged to be superior.  After his father's death, Moigniez partnered with A. Gouge for the foundry of his works.

References and Literature:

  • The Animaliers, James Mackay, p. 78 (biographical details, brief discussion of present example), p. 151 (list of known works and some sizes)
  • Bronzes of the Nineteenth Century: Dictionary of Sculptors, Pierre Kjellberg, p. 495-501
  • Bronze Sculptures of Les Animaliers, Jane Horswell, p. 217-48
  • Animals in Bronze, Christopher Payne

Measurements:  7 7/8" H x 6 1/8" W x 4 1/4" D

Condition Report:
Minor patina wear around edges of base, light dust in crevices.  Part of the wood finishing the underside missing.