"Chien Braque Suet no. 1"
Patinated copper-electrotype | signed "P.J. MÊNE 1842" in naturalistic base, handwritten in black ink "301" and "190", handwritten in purple ink "1900"
Item # 303BWP22P
This exquisitely textured model was formed through a processed called copper-electrotype, similar to electroplating but with a much thicker buildup of the plating material over the substrate. It was first documented as being used in the early 19th century and was explored by sculptors throughout the 19th century as a possible option to faithfully reproduce their work. Both Pierre-Jules Mêne and Antoine-Louis Barye both explored the new technology to see if it had a place in their work, but both ultimately decided against adopting the method in any serious way. The benefit of the copper-electrotype method is mostly the extraordinary fidelity the end product retains to the original mold, unlike with molten bronze where the texture was not always captured as exactly without inordinate effort. And it is necessary that the copper-electrotype capture as exactly as possible, as cold-tooling and chiseling the surface is simply not an option - the finished electrotype is generally an exact expression of the artist due to the limited number of artisans that have a hand in the work after making the original model.
In the present example, we actually have a chance to see the true depth of detail we should expect in a cast by Mêne. Extraordinary care is shown to even the most minute element - note the careful stippling and texture of the leaves on the ground or the sharp fluting of the Pointer's collar. His fur is expressed with the most compelling attention to realism. And the anatomical nuances of his body give evidence to why Mêne was so revered - a shockingly deep understanding of the smallest muscles and their tension in a given pose.
While his bronze models of this cast are also stunningly beautiful, and in bronze the feet are handled much better, it is a very rare cast that shows as much extraordinary detail and texture as the present example. It is difficult to date with any certainty, but it appears to be a posthumous casting circa 1880 from the joinery and construction.
For the student of Mêne or any collector passionate about his work, this is not only incredibly beautiful in its own right but also works as a level-set for any works you might collect from his ouevre. Seek out texture, depth and precision like that captured faithfully in this example.
Artist Listings & Bibliography:
- Pierre Jules Mène, catalogue raisonné, Poletti & Richarme, 2007, an example catalogued on p. 102 as n°CHI 17
Measurements: 11 1/2" W x 4 1/2" D x 8" H
Open fissure in the top of the tail where it meets the tail bone, light wear to surface including the tip of his nose, the front left corner of the base, a scuff to his ribs, the outer edges of his ears; a few specks of verdigris; a few replaced nuts under the base. Cleaned and sealed, a fine presentation.