Thanks largely to the acquisition of two Javanese pythons and three caimans from Louisiana, a reptile house was inaugurated at the Muséum national d'histoire naturelle on 15 October 1838. Modelled in 1841 (a cast bearing this date and numbered 1 was sold in the Vente Schoeller, 14-16 May 1956), Barye's composition of these two exotic animals entangled in violent combat is the epitome of the Romantic bronze. Listed simply as Serpent et crocodile, the model was first offered in Besse's 1844 catalogue with the accompanying description: "Un chef-d'oeuvre, c'est vrai, mais deux méchantes bêtes ensemble, en sorte qu'on voudrait les savoir mortes toutes deux, pourvu que leur image nous rêstat".
This highly finished modèle, with its masterful detailing (in particular, the razor sharp teeth of the caiman) and glorious patina, was acquired at the 1876 Atelier sale by the sculptor, Alfred Jacquemart, and was subsequently edited with enduring success by Barbedienne.
Of fine quality, but technically inferior to this modèle, a posthumous cast of Python étouffant un crocodile, attributed to Barbedienne, was sold Christie's Paris, Collection Charles-Otto Zieseniss, 5-6 December 2001, lot 39 (10,747 Euros).