Bronze with nuanced old gilt-light brown patina
Signed on the base "Fratin"
Old edition cast
height 15 cm
A similar model is reproduced in "Le sculpteur animalier Christophe Fratin; Essai sur sa vie et sur son œuvre", J. Bougon, Le Raincy, 1983, page 42.
Christopher Fratin (1801-1864) exhibited in 1831 and regularly at the Salon. During these fairs, he met Antoine-Louis Barye whom showed with success successively "Tiger devouring a Gharial" in 1831, and his monumental "Lion and Serpent" 1833, leaving thus during these two years Fratin in shadow. He eventually met with success and esteem: the reviews were glowing, his works sold well.
The repeated success of the sculptor at the 1834, 1835 and 1836 Salons arouse the interest of the aristocracy. So he worked at Château de Dampierre for the Duke of Luynes, where he made the Lions for the pediment of the main building and major interior works. Fratin, who excelled in making decorative items, provided four small pieces for achieving a princely table, for which Barye was the main architect. The hearing of Fratin quickly became international, he left for England between 1833 and 1834. The artist also made great romantic groups in Germany, in Potsdam at Sanssouci and Babelsberg castles where some still remained. Throughout his career, the interest of the English customers did not fail. This tireless worker even exported his work to St. Petersburg, where they decorated the park of the Emperor of Russia. Romanticism reflected in an obvious way in his subjects, where the horse held an important place.
Critics are numerous and often laudatory, they had Fratin as "formidable rival" of Barye in the representation of animals. These same critics pointed to his eagerness to create models and its ability to provide large works. The works were exhibited at the Maison Susse running a store at Passage des Panoramas in Paris, where they were then offered in plaster. It was really in 1835 that start editions of bronzes by Fratin, essentially cast by Quesnel workshops. Christophe Fratin was thus one of the first if not the first, to get into the editing sculpture. These bronzes were produced by the technique of sand casting (which had been controlled by the founders of the time) and were made in various sizes. These early years were taking place under the sign of success. He obtained public commissions from his native city of Metz in which he offered two life-sized Dogs, the year of his marriage, June 25, 1836 with Marguerite Sophie Pioche, the daughter of his art teacher. In 1837, the show became hostile to the young Romantic generation and the participation of Fratin was reduced to its "Mares". He did not appear the following year and in 1840 his contributions at the Salons were refused, accordingly orders began to fail. The artist's career seemed to tilt and financial difficulties became paramount.
Fratin then concentrated on edited casts and developing small commercial models. This inflection in his career was reflected in the small portrait charge,"Fratin by himself", where humor sculptor appeared. The artist, hands in pockets, is dressed in his work coat and wearing a cap. His pockets swarm of small animals: monkeys, dogs, spaniels ... In the years that followed, Fratin difficulty in obtaining public commissions, such as the "Eagles", ended in 1853, when placed on the Esplanade Metz, or the command of a pediment representing "Hunting" in 1855, for the Visconti courtyard of the Louvre Palace then under construction. Finally, in 1862, he made his last order by ministerial decision "Goat and kid". He also exhibited at various exhibitions such as the exhibition of the Society of Friends of the Arts of Bordeaux, Metz World Expo under the patronage of the Empress in 1861, or the Universal Exhibition of 1862 held in London. In 1849, as a result of serious financial difficulties, Christopher Fratin organized in Paris the first public sale without reproduction rights of 450 of his models. In 1854 he organized his second sale, which consisted mainly of bronze models with reproduction rights, which meant that Fratin renounced the use of those works. Fratin preferred and sold his works in public sales rather than opening a shop as Antoine-Louis Barye and Pierre-Jules Mêne did. Christopher Fratin organized this type of sale every year until his death in 1864.