A FRENCH BRONZE LIFE SIZE MODEL OF A STALLION, POSSIBLY GLADIATEUR
A FRENCH BRONZE LIFE SIZE MODEL OF A STALLION, POSSIBLY GLADIATEUR
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A FRENCH BRONZE LIFE SIZE MODEL OF A STALLION, POSSIBLY GLADIATEUR

EUGÈNE-LOUIS LEQUESNE (1815-1887), CAST BY J.J. DUCEL PAR ET FILS, CIRCA 1867

Details
A FRENCH BRONZE LIFE SIZE MODEL OF A STALLION, POSSIBLY GLADIATEUR
EUGÈNE-LOUIS LEQUESNE (1815-1887), CAST BY J.J. DUCEL PAR ET FILS, CIRCA 1867
Shown standing with head, mane and gaze turned to dexter, ears pricked forward, nostrils slightly flared, on an integral a rectangular plinth with cast inscription to the front 'LEQUESNE Sculpt/FONDU PAR J.J.DUCEL ET FILS PARIS 1867'
78 in. (198 cm.) high; 98 in. (249 cm.) long, overall; 32 in. (81.5 cm,) wide, approx.
The plinth - 76¾ x 32 in. (195 x 81.5 cm.)
Post lot text
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Lot Essay

A Chevalier of the Legion of Honor, Lequesne exhibited extensively at the Paris Salon beginning in 1842. After winning the Prix de Rome in 1844, he created many secular and sacred architectural decorations as well as working as a portraitist. One of his most famous works is the pair of sculptures of La Renommée retenant Pégase at the Paris Opera house Palais Garnier. While Lequesne was not known as a traditional animalier sculptor, his capturing of the grace and muscular complexity of the equine subject matter in both the present lot and the Opera house bronzes display his undoubted talent in this area.
The current lot must surely be a direct commission from one of Lequesne's important patrons and could well be the thoroughbred racehorse Gladiateur (1862-1876). Gladiateur was a French racehorse who won the English Triple Crown in 1865 and he remains one of the most impressive horses in thoroughbred racing history. He was bred by Count Frederic de Lagrange at his Haras de Dangu at Dangu, Eure in the Upper Normandy region of France and sent to England to be trained by Tom Jennings, Sr. at Newmarket Racecourse. At the age of three Gladiateur was the most dominant horse in European racing while becoming the first foreign horse to win the English Triple Crown. After winning the 1865 2,000 Guineas then the most prestigious race in England and the Epsom Derby, Gladiateur was sent to race in Paris where he easily won the Grand Prix de Paris. At age four, Gladiateur continued to dominate, winning numerous important races in England and France including a forty-length victory in the Ascot Gold Cup. He was retired to stud at the end of his four-year-old season having won sixteen of his nineteen races.

A retailer of fine cast-iron ornaments, J. J. Ducel was recorded as supplying works through Paris as early as 1810 in the Pas-de-Calais. The factory was sold in 1878 to the Fonderie de la Haute-Marne and all of the firm's models were subsequently bought by the Val d'Osne foundry. However, prior to the firm's sale, critics at the 1867 Paris Exposition Universelle proclaimed that "Ducel is the great manufacturer of works in cast-iron, to whom Paris is so largely indebted for the grace and elegance that supply so many of the adornments of its streets".
This model is recorded in the Ducel catalogue circa 1880 and later in the Val d'Osne catalogue circa 1900. In neither catalogue is the model credited to Lequesne and it is therefore probable that the foundries secured the exclusive right to reproduce it. This signed bronze is probably therefore an early, or possibly the first, bronze cast by Ducel.

Ducel, Val d'Osne and other associated foundries produced both bronze and cast-iron statuary. Cast-iron is corrosive, whereas non-ferrous bronze does not suffer the same detrimental effects of weathering and is therefore a superior and more expensive material.

An identical cast in iron with the same inscription was sold Gros & Delettrez, 7 December 1992, lot 126, 500,000 francs.

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