Lot 41
  • 41

Rembrandt Bugatti

500,000 - 700,000 GBP
938,500 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Deux grands léopards
  • inscribed R.Bugatti, stamped with the foundry mark A.A. Hébrard Cire Perdue and numbered 7
  • bronze


Private Collection, France

The Sladmore Gallery, London

Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2000


Mary Harvey, The Bronzes of Rembrandt Bugatti (1885-1916), An Illustrated Catalogue and Biography, London, 1979, no. 30, illustration of another cast p. 37 (titled Leopard and Lioness)

Philippe Dejean, Carlo-Rembrandt-Etorre-Jean Bugatti, New York, 1981, illustration of another cast p. 347 (titled Two Leopards)

Jacques-Chalom des Cordes & Véronique Fromanger des Cordes, Rembrandt Bugatti, Catalogue raisonné, Paris, 1987, illustration of another cast pp. 272-273 (titled Deux léopards)

Edward Horswell, Rembrandt Bugatti: Life in Sculpture, London, 2004, illustration of another cast in colour pp. 26-27 (as dating from 1911)

Véronique Fromanger, Rembrandt Bugatti, Sculpteur. Répetoire monographique, Paris, 2009, no. 303, illustration of another cast in colour pp. 146 & 331

Catalogue Note

Rembrandt Bugatti produced in his career a number of extraordinary sculptures ranging from commonplace domestic animals to exotic creatures such as lions, leopards and Himalayan baboons, establishing himself as the preeminent animalier of the 20th century. The sculptor worked primarily outdoors at the Jardin Zoologique in Antwerp after moving to the city in 1907 so that he could study the nuances of animal behaviour at one of the finest zoos in Europe. These figures were rendered in plastiline, a typical Italian modelling clay, using strokes of his thumbs, and working with the Hébrard foundry with the aid of chief founder Albino Palazzolo, were cast in bronze.

Deux grands léopards represents an important stage in Bugatti's stylistic development. Displaying naturalistic characterisation and a dramatic modelled surface, it bears the influence of his fellow sculptor, friend and mentor, Prince Paolo Troubetzkoy.  It shows, in many respects, the artist at the height of his powers. While having created some three hundred sculptures during his tragically short life, it is his depictions of big cats that are, for many, his greatest and most charismatic achievements. The piece is imbued with a powerful sense of presence and physicality; the considered and often impressionistic surfaces of many of his earlier works here giving way to a dynamic and confident aesthetic which highlights the underlying musculature of both animals. Bugatti here skilfully captures the essence and vitality of his subject, to create sculptures that give lasting testament to his mastery.

Edward Horswell provides the following analysis of Bugatti's representation of wild cats and his approach to the present work: 'Often he returns to particular beasts, with whom he had developed a special fascination (the male here, identifiable by the kinked tail, recurs in other works). The artist's feline sculptures were among his most sought-after, and this example, whether cast singly or in a group, is among the most individual. Bugatti is especially interested in the tentative delicacy of the raised paw, which is nevertheless potentially deadly.  The pinned-back ears may suggest the anticipation of confrontation or the leopard's consciousness of an animal behind him.  The artist was supremely attuned to his subject's body language' (E. Horswell, op. cit., p. 25).