Lot 64
  • 64

Émile Antoine Bourdelle

300,000 - 350,000 USD
365,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Émile Antoine Bourdelle
  • Héraklès, Archer
  • Inscribed Emile-Antoine Bourdelle and with the foundry mark Alexis. Rudier Fondeur. Paris
  • Bronze
  • 22 ¾ in
  • 57.8 cm


Private Collection (and sold: Sotheby’s, London, December 4. 1985, lot 159)

Private Collection, California (acquired at the above sale, thence by descent and sold: Sotheby’s, New York, November 3. 2011, lot 421)

Acquired at the above sale


Jacques A. Mithouard, Emile-Antoine Bourdelle, Paris, 1924, illustration of the larger version p. 9

André Fontainas, Bourdelle, Paris, 1930, no. 17, illustration of the larger version pl. 17

Paul Lorenz, Bourdelle, Sculptures et dessins, Paris, 1947, no. 25, illustration of another cast n.p.

Pierre Descargues, Bourdelle, Paris, 1954, illustration of the larger version p. 38

Ionel Jianou & Michel Dufet, Bourdelle, Paris, 1978, no. 400, catalogued p. 108

Carol M. Lavrillier & Michel Dufet, Bourdelle et la critique de son temps, Paris, 1979, illustration of the larger version pl. 20

Peter Cannon-Brookes, Emile-Antoine Bourdelle, London, 1983, illustrations of another cast pl. 89 & p. 62

Catalogue Note

Conceived in 1909, Héraklès Archer was inspired by the Greek myth of the Stymphalian birds; a tale of the sixth labor of Hercules in which he heroically drives away a flock of man-eating birds congregated at a lake near the town of Stymphalos in Arcadia. The model for this acclaimed sculpture was Commander Doyen Pargot, a cavalry officer with a demigod-like physique. Despite Pargot’s inherent strength, he was only able to hold the laborious pose for a few minutes at a time. He documented the duration of each session which totaled over nine hours before the sculpture’s completion. While the body of the archer resembles that of Pargot, the head is variations of Bourdelle’s earlier sculpture Tête d’Apollon. Conscientious of his image and career, Pargot insisted Bourdelle modify the head to conceal his identity.


The present work, which is one from an edition of ten bronze casts, is the most celebrated composition of Bourdelle’s oeuvre and was critically acclaimed from the time of its first public presentation at the Salon de la Société National des Beaux-Arts in 1910. The French writer Charles Morice raves about this work in the Mercure de France from May 1, 1910 stating, “The unbelievably audacious movement of this archer balancing himself in mid-air, supported against the ridge of a rock, that human form that even appears to leap in its immobility, that summary, precise, full and vibrant modelling is one of the most prodigious endeavors of living art. Here realism borders on idealism.  A model may have sat for this anatomy, but none could have given it this countenance or this movement. Bourdelle’s art marks the transition from the long period of enslavement by reality, which we have experienced, to the new, necessary phase in which the artist will review in his heart all the secrets of nature and reflect them in a creation more faithful to general truth and at the same time revealing his own persona, intimate truth” (Charle Morice, excerpt from L’Art de Bourdelle, Mercure de France, 1910, as quoted in Ionel Jianou & Michel Dufet, Bourdelle, Paris, 1978, p. 28-29).