R. Ballu, L'Oeuvre de Barye, Paris, 1890, p.87
S. Pivar, The Barye Bronzes, Antique Collectors' Club, 1974, pl. F13
G.F. Benge, Antoine-Louis Barye, Sculptor of Romantic Realism, Pennsylvania State University, 1984, pp. 108-9, figs. 86, 95 and 185
Barye's model known as Cavalier africain surpris par un serpent, or Un cavalier abyssinien surpris par un serpent, was probably conceived and executed prior to 1840. It is loosely based on his Greek Rider seized by a Python, 1835, and may have been inspired by Henry Fuseli's painitngs of similar subjects. It relates to groups such as The Python killing a Gnu which was made for the surtout de table for the Duke of Orlans 1834-35, which is of a similar scale and clearly shows the same quality of casting and chiselling from Barye's own foundry at this period.
The model is listed in Barye's 1847 catalogue, under number 74, and again in the 1865 catalogue, under number 10. The model was cast by Barbedienne after Barye's death, but the present model is a rare Barye cast, probably prior to 1840. A larger plaster model by Barye of a similar scene exists in the Louvre (no. RF2218) and also a preparatory drawing for the present model (Benge, op. cit., fig. 185). The final bronze version reveals a more unified and romantic treatment of the subject, and as in the present model, a delicate contrast between the naturalistic chiselling on the python with the smoother wind-swept surface of the horse and rider. An example of the present bronze model is in the George A. Lucas Collection on indefinite loan to the Baltimore Museum of Art.
Another figure was offered in these Rooms on 27 September 1990, lot 161.