BARYE, Antoine-Louis
(b. 1796, Paris, d. 1875, Paris)


French sculptor, painter and printmaker, celebrated for his portrayal of animals. He laid the basis of his extensive knowledge of animal forms while employed by a goldsmith making models of animals in the Jardin des Plantes, Paris (1823-31). His work was in the spirit of Romanticism, particularly his preference for rendering violent movement and tense posture. He also did the pediment Napoleon dominating History and the Arts on the Pavilion de l'Horloge of the Louvre and an equestrian statue of Napoleon at Ajaccio, the Emperor's birthplace in Corsica.

Although he was a successful monumental sculptor, he also created a considerable body of small-scale works and often made multiple casts of his small bronze designs, marketing them for a middle-class public through a partnership, Barye & Cie. His interest in animal subjects is also reflected in his many watercolours. He thus challenged several fundamental values of the Parisian art world: the entrenched notion of a hierarchy of subject-matter in art, wherein animals ranked very low; the view that small-scale sculpture was intrinsically inferior to life-size or monumental work; and the idea that only a unique example of a sculptor's design could embody the highest level of his vision and craft. As a result of his Romantic notion of sculpture, he won few monumental commissions and endured near poverty for many years.