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"Combat de deux panthères" | Georges Gardet



French, 1863-1939

Combat de deux panthères (Panthers in Combat)

Artificially colored and carved marble | Signed in base "G. GARDET" | Conceived in 1896, carved first quarter of the 20th century

Item # 204HIU20V 

A powerful group of two panthers engaged in combat, it was initially sculpted by Gardet in 1896 and presented at the Paris Salon of the same year as Les Panthères. There was received with acclaim by the Gazette des Beaux-Arts:

"Le merveilleux est la souplesse des peaux sous lesquelles on voit s'amasser les muscles, se detendre les nerfs, palpiter les organs... L'artiste a su, par une patientre patine, apparenter le grain au pelage vrai des fauves [The beauty is in the suppleness of the skin under which we see the muscles amass, the nerves relax and the organs throb... The artist has, through a patient patina, simulated the grain of the coat true of the wild animals]"

Large and dramatic in scale, the model captures the sheer ferocity of the creatures as their lean muscled bodies twist and writhe in a mortal dance. The rocky naturalistic base is signed in block G. GARDET. It is carved out of a single solid block of marble that was then polychromed and stained to create the effective simulation of the finely textured coat.

This model was acquired by a private collector at the Christie's, London sale on March 28th of 2007 where it achieved 9,600 GBP (converting to approximately $ 18,700 USD at the prevailing exchange rate that month) on an estimate of 8,000 - 12,000 GBP.

A larger artificially colored marble model of Panthers carved circa 1914 is held in the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (acc. no. 21.32). Bronze castings are generally slightly smaller than the present marble example and some results for those include Christie's, sale 1774, 18 April 2006, lot 19, an 11 3/4" model cast by Thiebaut Freres that achieved $ 10,200 USD; also see Christie's, sale 5959, 9 August 2010, lot 605 for an 18" model cast by Siot-Decauville that achieved 6500 GBP (converting to approximately $ 10,140 USD based on prevailing exchange rates at time of sale). We may still have a bronze model sealed by the Thiebaut Freres foundry (18" H) still available in our shop inventory.

Born in Paris, France on October 11th of 1863, Georges Gardet first studied under his father, sculptor Joseph Gardet. Both his father and his brother, Antoine, were talented and noteworthy sculptors, though neither would achieve his level of ability or commercial success. His early studies were later under the famous Aimé Millet and he was later accepted for study into the École des Beaux-Arts. It was there that he studied under the famed animalier Emmanuel Fremiet. His tutelage under Fremiet heavily influenced the direction of his work. He began to exhibit at the age of twenty at the Salon des Artistes Français where he won many prizes and honors, including the 1887 third-class medal, the 1888 second-glass medal, a medal at the Exposition Universelle of 1889 and ultimately the Grand Prix in the Exposition Universelle of 1900.

He was a member of the Society of French Artists as well as the Académie des Beaux-Arts, having been appointed to the Legion d'Honneur with a position of Chevalier in 1896 and finally Officer in 1900. He was tutor to numerous sculptors, including Paris Réné and Thomas-François Cartier. He continued to exhibit at Salon with great regularity through 1914, continuing then to exhibit after the first World War until 1931. Primarily a sculptor in marble, most of Gardet's work was produced subsequently in bronze in reduced dimensions by the foundries of Siot-Decauville, Thiebaut Freres and Ferdinand Barbedienne; he also worked with a few other foundries, though in less volume.

His work was tremendously popular, even in his lifetime, and he is regarded as one of the more outstanding of the late 19th century Animaliers. His deep fascination with big game animals, particularly the wild cats, led him to produce the many studies of these creatures. These scarce works are some of his most prized pieces and many remain in the permanent collections of museums around the world. It was his skill and passion for translating the fierce and muscular strength of these predators that remains so completely moving in his work. However, he was not opposed to modeling of smaller animals and domestic studies, many of these produced being very competent and always highly detailed. His work is always passionate, depicting his animals as proud and romantic, but he was equally skilled with the technical aspects of the sculpture - his work is always exquisitely patinated and finished with very careful attention to detail, placing his work in the upper echelons of his contemporaries. Many of his sculptures were produced as unglazed porcelain by the Sévres factory.

Measurements: 19" H x 12" D x 20 1/2" W

Condition Report: Light surface wear throughout from handling, bringing the brighter natural marble color through in a few areas, more notably along the shoulders and upper ridges of the upper panther; lower panther outstretched paw with loses to the tips of two claws, both lower incisors for lower panther chipped on the tips, outstretched foot of lower panther with loss to second claw.