"Chasse au Sanglier" [The Wild Boar Hunt]
Patinated sand-cast bronze | Signed along front edge "AUGUSTE LECHESNE / DE CAEN 1853", back edge inscribed "Fie de Eck et Durand"
Item # 204DJT20R
An incredibly fine and extraordinarily complex sand-cast model of The Wild Boar Hunt executed by the Eck et Durand foundry for Auguste-Jean-Baptiste Lechesne. It is a most scarce group and we are only aware of three times the model was available on the open market in the last several decades: on June 22 of 1976 in London, on June 23rd of 1985 at the Château d'Echailly and on April 21st of 2004 when offered at Sotheby's, London [sale no. L04230, April, 2004, lot 72, achieving 12,000 GBP or approximately $ 21,600 USD at the prevailing exchange rate the month of sale of 1.80 GBP/USD]. The model was the center of some controversy when Pierre Jules Mêne was accused by the Graux-Marly foundry of copying Auguste Lechesne's model with some minor variations. Mêne's group of four hounds battling a wild boar was initially rejected from the 1846 Salon exhibit; judges later decided the model was distinct enough to be considered a separate work and it was allowed in the 1847 Salon and also the wax model in the 1848 exhibition. In 1850 it was cast in bronze and prior to the eventual public exhibit of this model at the Paris Salon by Lechesne in 1853.
We arrive at the absolute height of the drama for this intense moment, several dogs having been pinned and at least one seriously injured while the powerful boar seems a whirlwind of motion and determination. The tension and chaos is palpable. It is made all the more interesting by the various angles where elements of the scene seem to have unfolded differently for the various hounds.
Signed along the lower edge, it bears the foundry inscription of Eck et Durand to the reverse. Eck and Durand also cast the model held at the Château of Compiègne referenced by Kjellberg. The intricate metalwork is highly refined with brilliant texture captured directly from the mold and precise chiseling and chasing throughout; it is finished in an overall dark-brown patina with hints of translucent reddish-brown undertones in a few areas.
Born in Caen in 1815, Auguste-Jean-Baptiste Lechesne attended the École des Beaux-Arts of Paris where he studied under Pierre-Charles Simart and Jean-Baptiste Joseph Debay. His first major contribution was his 1840 interpretation of foliage and animals in a frieze he sculpted for the Maison Doreé in Paris. From that point on, he was never short of employment as a decorator of mansions throughout France.
In 1848 he was awarded a medal for his submission to the Salon; one group he exhibited that year was a group called Amour et Jalousie, first executed in terracotta and again carved out of applewood for the Salon the following year; he continue to exhibit these carved wooden architrave depicting animals and birds at the Salon; he exhibited there as an Animal Sculptor through 1878. He next won two first-class medals in London at the Exposition Universelle of 1851. As a result of this, he was apointed the honorary vice-president of the Society of Fine Arts in London. In 1853 he exhibited a vigorous group The Wild Boar Hunt (no. 1402) depicting six hound dogs surrounding and attacking a wild boar in plaster. He was awarded the Cross of Honor at the 1855 Exposition Universelle where he again exhibited The Wild Boar Hunt (no. 4457), this time in bronze; the model was acquired by the French government for 20,000 francs.
Some biographical material confuses Auguste-Jean-Baptiste with his son Auguste on the point that in 1856 he competed for the prestigious Prix de Rome and admirably tied for second-place in the overall competition for his depiction of Romulus, vainqueur d'Acron, porte les premiéres dépouilles opimes au temple de Jupiter Férétrien. This accomplishment was almost certainly that of his son, who otherwise led a relatively unremarkable career and died long before his father in 1861.
His 1858 exhibition of L'Amour domptant les bêtes féroces was received with great enthusiasm and initially plans were made for the City of Paris to acquire the work and install it in the Bois de Boulogne; those plans failed to materialize and Lechesne donated it to Caen where it was installed in the Jardin de Plantes. In 1859 he was named the head of the school of sculpture by Caen and was made a Chevalier d'Honneur in 1855. Some of his more public contributions include his participation in decorating the Louvre Museum in Paris and the carved the stone group of dragons surmounted by infants for the pond of Neptune at the Versailles Palace.
He died in Caen on November 2nd of 1888.
Artist Listings & Bibliography:
- Bulletin of the Fine Arts Society of Caen, 1856, p. 41-44
- The Dictionary of Western Sculptors in Bronze, James Mackay, 1977, p. 227
- Animals in Bronze, Christopher Payne, 1986, p. 411
- Dictionnaire des Sculpteurs de l'École Française, Vol. III, Stanislas Lami, 1919, p. 271-274
- Bronzes of the 19th Century; A Dictionary of Sculptors, Pierre Kjellberg, 1994, p. 418-419 [present model illustrated]
- E. Benezit Dictionary of Artists, vol. VIII, Gründ, 2006, p. 682-683
Measurements: 13 1/2" H x 17" D x 21 1/2" W
Condition Report: Seam at one hound's head where the roman pin has loosened over the years allowing the head to separate slightly from the body; the joint remains very firm and no restoration is recommended; minor rubbing wear to the original patina (notably gentle wear along the spine of the uppermost dog and the shoulders/a few spots on the centermost dog above the signature); cleaned and sealed in conservator's grade wax; a very fine presentation.