Rembrandt Bugatti (1884-1916)
Rembrandt Bugatti (1884-1916)
Rembrandt Bugatti (1884-1916)
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Rembrandt Bugatti (1884-1916)
4 More
Property from a Private French Collection
Rembrandt Bugatti (1884-1916)

Serpentaire femelle and Serpentaire mâle, une aile déployée

Rembrandt Bugatti (1884-1916)
Serpentaire femelle and Serpentaire mâle, une aile déployée
each signed, numbered and stamped with foundry mark 'R. Bugatti (3) A.A. HÉBRARD CIRE PERDUE' (on the edge of the base)
bronze with brown patina
Height: 13 1/8 in. (33.7 cm.)
Conceived circa 1911-1912 and cast by circa 1920
Galerie Hébrard, Paris.
Mme Maurice Bokanowski, France (acquired from the above, circa 1920).
Private collection, United States (by descent from the above); sale, Sotheby's, New York, 7 June 2002, lot 236 (mâle) and 237 (femelle).
The Sladmore Gallery, London.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
P. Dejean, Carlo-Rembrandt-Ettore-Jean Bugatti, New York, 1982, p. 166 (another cast of each illustrated).
J.-C. Des Cordes and V. Fromanger, Rembrandt Bugatti: Catalogue raisonné, Paris, 1987, p. 291 (another cast of each illustrated in color).
L. Denys, Rembrandt Bugatti en de Belgische dierensculptuur: 1860-1930, Antwerp, 1990, pp. 79 and 179, no. 97 (mâle).
B. Lamarche-Vadel, B. Dufour and A. Lamparska-Rivet, Bugatti: Les meubles, les sculptures, les autos, Paris, 1995, p. 156 (another cast of the mâle illustrated).
E. Horswell, Rembrandt Bugatti: Life in Sculpture, London, 2004 (another cast of each illustrated in color, p. 200; another cast of the mâle illustrated in color, p. 25).
V. Fromanger, Rembrandt Bugatti, Sculpteur: Répertoire monographique, Paris, 2016, p. 361, no. 290 for the femelle and no. 291 for the mâle (another cast of each illustrated in color, pp. 217 and 361; silver version illustrated in color, p. 361).
E. Horswell, Sculpture of Les Animaliers, 1900-1950, London, 2019, frontispiece (another cast of the mâle illustrated in color).

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Vanessa Fusco
Vanessa Fusco

Lot Essay

Véronique Fromanger has confirmed the authenticity of this work.

At the time of Bugatti’s visits, the zoo at Antwerp was home to several rare species of birds as well as “the most beautiful collection of birds of prey” (Véronique Fromanger, Rembrandt Bugatti, Sculptor, Paris, 2016, p. 134) of which, the male and female Serpentaire are part of. Conceived circa 1911-1912, Serpentaire femelle and Serpentaire mâle, une aile deployée are two single studies of a male and female secretary bird. While having the long legs and silhouette of a wader, secretary birds are in fact carnivorous, predatory and diurnal birds, from the order of the Falconiform and sole member of the Sagittariidae family. Their strong feet and sharp beak allow them to quickly stamp on and kick their prey, which they travel great distances in the search of. Living in pairs, these birds are notoriously difficult to be kept in captivity. The female has her wings tucked by her side while the male, as the title suggests, has one wing slightly raised. The extraordinary animals do not pose for Bugatti but instead, each stands on a rock in what appears to be a moment of rest before inevitably taking flight again.
The Antwerp Zoo owned a pair of secretary birds, who served as models for Rembrandt Bugatti’s study of Serpentaires. Given the size of the sculptures, the artist achieves immense detail. Their eagle-like heads and long crane-like legs make them instantly recognizable and, while there are slight variations between the sexes - the male has longer tail feathers and more head plumes – both are rendered in such a way that their feathers look as if they could blow in the wind while their beaks convey the inherent predatory nature of the species.
As Véronique Fromanger remarked, “Bugatti approached the birds easily and was so familiar with them that he was able to model a pair as they rested, as one of them walks with a measured step, on long, fine, delicate legs while the other preens its feathers.” (op. cit.) Thus, on account of the familiarity Bugatti had with the species, he was able to sculpt the pair spontaneously resulting in an almost impressionistic style of modeling that highlights the dynamism of the towering birds. On close inspection, one can see the various prints and marks made by the artist as he modeled the sculptures in situ, creating a feeling of intimacy with the artist and his process. Accordingly, Bugatti’s passion for animals is brought to life in the works and, despite being single studies, the pair has stayed together since their creation, a testament to the way in which the two sculptures interact with one another. They, like so many of Bugatti’s pairings are not exaggerated or dramatic but instead, act as an excellent example of a realistic relationship between two animals.

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