Lot 38
  • 38

Rembrandt Bugatti

450,000 - 650,000 GBP
545,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Grand léopard au repos, petit modèle
  • inscribed R. Bugatti, numbered 8 and stamped with the foundry mark A. A. Hébrard cire perdue
  • bronze
  • length: 41cm.
  • 16 1/8 in.


Daniel Vincent, Beauvais

Private Collection, Paris

Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2010


Kineton Parkes, 'Rembrandt Bugatti: Modeller of Animals. Exhibition of Bronzes at the Abdy Gallery', in Apollo, vol. 10, no. 59, November 1929, another cast illustrated pp. 312-313

Nadine Coleno & Uwe Hucke (eds.), Carlo-Rembrandt-Ettore-Jean Bugatti, New York, 1982, another cast illustrated p. 146

Jacques Chalom des Cordes & Véronique Fromanger des Cordes, Rembrandt Bugatti, catalogue raisonné, Paris, 1987, another cast illustrated p. 200

Edward Horswell, Rembrandt Bugatti, Life in Sculpture, London, 2004, another cast illustrated p. 175 (as dating from 1909)

Véronique Fromanger, Rembrandt Bugatti sculpteur, répertoire monographique, Paris, 2009, no. 271, another cast illustrated p. 322

Catalogue Note

During the course of his career Rembrandt Bugatti produced 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 twentieth century. He 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 (fig. 1), 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.

Grand léopard au repos 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 present work 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 the animal. 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: 'Often he returns to particular beasts, with whom he had developed a special fascination [...]. The artist's feline sculptures were among his most sought-after [...]. The artist was supremely attuned to his subject's body language' (E. Horswell, op. cit., p. 25).

Bugatti executed Grand léopard au repos in two sizes; according to Véronique Fromanger, the larger size (69cm. long) was executed in an edition of 3 known bronze casts; the original plaster is in the collection of Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea in Rome. The present example belongs to the smaller size, and is from an edition of at least 23 known casts (V. Fromanger, op. cit., p. 322).