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On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial int… Read more PROPERTY OF A DISTINGUISHED EUROPEAN COLLECTOR

Deux léopards marchant

Deux léopards marchant
signed and stamped with foundry mark ‘R. Bugatti A.A. HEBRARD CIRE PERDUE’ and inscribed twice ‘M’ (on the top of the base)
bronze with black patina
9 x 35 x 4 ½ in. (23 x 89 x 11.5 cm.)
Conceived circa 1912, cast by 1934
A.A. Hébrard, Paris.
Anon. sale, Ader-Tajan, Paris, 14 December 1992, lot 25.
Sladmore Gallery, London.
Acquired from the above by the present owner, 1993.
P. Dejean, Carlo-Rembrandt-Ettore-Jean Bugatti, New York, 1982, pp. 148-149 (another cast illustrated).
J.-C. and V.F. Des Cordes, Rembrandt Bugatti, Paris, 1987, p. 270 (another cast illustrated).
V.F. Des Cordes, ed., Les Bugattis d'Alain Delon, Paris, 1988, no. 12 (another cast illustrated).
D. Pappers and W. Oude Weemink, Autos, meubels en beelden van de familie Bugatti, exh. cat., Amsterdam, 1998, p. 32 (the present lot illustrated).
E. Horswell, Rembrandt Bugatti Life in Sculpture, London, 2004, pp. 86-87 and 252 (another cast illustrated).
V. Fromanger, Rembrandt Bugatti, sculpteur: Répertoire Monographique, Paris, 2009, p. 330, no. 301 (another cast illustrated).
P. Demandt and A. Daemgen, Rembrandt Bugatti: The Sculptor, 1884-1916, exh. cat., Berlin, 2013, p. 120 (another cast illustrated).
V. Fromanger, Rembrandt Bugatti, sculpteur: Une trajectoire foudroyante. Répertoire Monographique, Paris, 2016, pp. 213 and 366, no. 305 (another cast illustrated).
Amsterdam, Stichting Onderneming & Kunst, Autos, meubels en beelden van de familie Bugatti, December 1998-March 1999.
Special notice

On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial interest in the outcome of the sale of certain lots consigned for sale. This will usually be where it has guaranteed to the Seller that whatever the outcome of the auction, the Seller will receive a minimum sale price for the work. This is known as a minimum price guarantee. This is such a lot.

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Lot Essay

Twenty-seven examples of this cast are known to exist.

This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity from Véronique Fromanger.


At the beginning of the 20th century, the young Italian sculptor Rembrandt Bugatti left Milan to settle in Paris and Anvers. For fifteen years, this discrete and quiet young man engaged with the 'Ménagerie' at the Jardin des Plantes and the Antwerp Zoo. He did not classify or romanticize the animals. He observed them in detail, one by one, studying and deciphering their behaviors, gestures, sounds, attitudes, and postures, noting that each of them had its own sensorial universe.

Bugatti’s powerful sculptures were born from this daily contact, this exchange, this dialogue, this sharing, this communion, and ultimately a remarkable fusion with all creatures, large and small. This intimate bond was revealed in one of his texts: 'I hope and I believe I have managed to create an oeuvre that no other ancient or modern sculptor has done before'.

His deep understanding of each animal evolved over the years. Initially, his impressions were based on a very fast, passionate and direct response to the shapes of the figures and their nuanced movements. In time, his approach to his subjects developed into a more structured, purposeful, precise and complex depiction. His brilliant artistic representations are perhaps best reflected in his feline series.

Bugatti truly admired panthers and leopards, 'his partners in life and work' as he liked to call them. 1909 marked a time in his career when Bugatti was simplifying each animal into geometrical masses. It was around that time that he created the model for Petite panthère (lot 6M), in 1911 the model for Léopard au repos, ville de Paris (lot 20M), and in 1912 the model for Deux léopards marchant (lot 5M). With an absolute mastery in this synthetical vision of volumes, the artist was able to capture for all of eternity the life and spirit of these felines in motion.

Bugatti was twenty years old when he met his exclusive art founder Adrien Aurélien Hébrard, a leading proponent for the alliance between art and craftmanship. For the first time, A.A. Hébrard gave a new and revolutionary meaning to editions of sculpture. 'Reproducibility' became a fundamental quality of the work, one that enables it to retain its 'aura', its organic, original and authentic character. A.A. Hébrard applied this new dynamic to the 'arts of fire' that he supported: bronze or silver lost wax casting. To meet this challenge, he began producing these casts, while also working as an art dealer. He imposed strict limits on production, numbering the pieces or executing some of the bronzes as unique. He decided to produce very few models as reductions and enforced legal boundaries in his exclusive contracts regarding the reproduction rights and usage.

Bugatti’s original editions went into production as soon as Hébrard and Bugatti met in 1904. However, A.A. Hébrard’s greatest accomplishment was to reveal the full body of Bugatti’s work, to faithfully perpetuate it in bronze thanks to his editorship of the casts, and finally to dare to present the young man as a great animalier sculptor, without resorting to decoration, as was the case for many other artists who could only express their talents through ornamental or architectural efforts at the turn of the 20th century.

A.A. Hébrard revealed his personal feelings in the introduction to an exhibition catalogue when he stated: 'Upon the recommendation of a friend to go see the works of the young artist, his pretty name was, at first met with distrust as I found it evocative of too much glory and too much art…I had seen the day before, work by a German trying to replicate Bourdelle. It was enough for the week. Later, I was brought to Rembrandt Bugatti. Instead of a small Italian with dexterous hands, I found a true artist. This tall boy, skinny, blushing, and quiet that museum regulars call "the American" showed me, without saying a word, the modelled clays which represented a year’s worth of dedicated attention and work. These are the things I like to present to art lovers. In these they will find the pulse of life which animates sincere works. They will also find an extraordinary account of the environment in which the subjects were seen…Too rarely do I find a sincere and personable artist for it not be a joy of mine to introduce him to the public'.

– Véronique Fromanger
Scholar and author (amongst others) of Rembrandt Bugatti, sculpteur: Une trajectoire foudroyante. Répertoire Monographique, Paris, 2016.

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