Harper's New Monthly Magazine,  10 (1885), 599–603.

Antoine Louis Barye

Theodore Child


Essay, Biography

Relevant illustrations:

eng. [15]


Aesthetics, Zoology, Anatomy, Dissection, Botanical Gardens, Conservatism, Taxonomy, Status

    In a discussion of Antoine L Barye's most famous work of sculpture 'Tiger Devouring a Crocodile', observes that before the work was first exhibited in the 1830s 'the tiger had not been considered worthy of the honors of sculpture, much less the crocodile, for academic zoology recognized only two animals, the lion and the horse, and both had degenerated into mere conventional forms, in the production of which the study or consultation of nature would have been misleading to the artist' (599). Bayre, however, devoted all his 'rare hours of leisure' to 'attending lectures at the Jardin des Plantes, [and] to studying human and animal anatomy in the dissecting-rooms' (587). His desire to observe real animals also led him to 'all kinds of queer places of popular amusement' and he would 'often go to study animal life at the dog-market' as well as at 'ignoble dog-fights'. In addition, he considered 'justly that the tiger is but a sublime development of the cat, [and] used to study the wild animal in its reduced domestic counterpart' (590). The conservative Académie des Beaux Arts refused to admit Bayre as a member for many years and instead 'adopted [...] the policy of depreciating him and treating him as a mere animalier, a modeller of animals, of beings belonging to a lower rank of creation!', relenting in its judgement only towards the end of his career (592).

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