- Antoine-Louis Barye
- Thesée et le Minotaure (Theseus and the Minotaur)
- signed: BARYE and stamped: BARYE 4 ; the base inscribed in ink to the underside: Epreuve No4 / fondue par Barye / en 1847 ou / antérieurement / Voir "Barye" par / Roger-Ballu / page 162 and: de la Collection / de / Roger Godchaux and with a label inscribed: 65
- bronze, brown patina, with golden undertones
- 46cm., 18 1/8 in.
Barye based the figure of Theseus on a drawing by Henry Fuseli of an executioner which was taken in turn from a fresco of the Beheading of John the Baptist by Andrea del Sarto in the Monastero dello Scalzo, Florence. Further inspiration comes from a sheet of drawings of boxers by Géricault. The strictly archaic Greek Theseus, his hair stylised and linear and legs planted firmly apart, makes a composed combatant for the more romantically conceived minotaur. The contrast subtly underlines the triumph of good over evil. Ballu considered the model 'one of Barye's most masterful works and certainly one of the masterpieces of French sculpture'.
The present bronze was part of the collection of Roger Godchaux, himself a sculptor affiliated with a late generation of animalier artists who followed in the footsteps of the great Romantic exponents of the genre, among whom Barye would have been held in the highest esteem. A student of Gerome, Godchaux's debuted in the Salon of 1905, specialising in more impressionistic interpretations of animalier sculpture of the 19th century. His admiration for Barye was obvious and self-conscious, and is particularly evident in his elephant sculptures, which were amongst his most popular subjects.
R. Ballu, L'Oeuvre de Barye, Paris, 1890, p.91; G. Benge, Antoine-Louis Barye, Sculptor of Romantic Realism, Pennsylvania, 1984, pp.116-118; M. Poletti and A. Richarme, Barye: Catalogue raisonné des sculptures, Paris, 2000, no. F31, pp.106-107