Bronze of “La Poete” Riding on Pegasus by A. Falguiere
A striking bronze statue with a greenish brown patina depicting Apollo holding a horned animal trophy in one hand and pointing at the heavens with the other, riding on a rearing winged horse Pégasus by acclaimed 19thC French Sculptor Alexandre Falguiere. Signed A, Falguiere on the base. Falguière executed this work which he called “La Poete” between 1880 and 1897 originally in plaster. It was made for a secret competition in 1880 for designs for the proposed monument to Victor Hugo in Paris, a commission which unfortunately for Falguiere went to his contemporary Ernest Barrias. The sculptor did however get some gratification for his loss in the competition as a monumental bronze of this sculpture was submitted to the Salon in 1897 which was bought by the State and installed in the Place de l’Opéra-Louis-Jouvet in Paris.
Falguière was born in Toulouse on 7 September 1831 into a modest home, his father working as a mason. His father did however manage to put him into the Toulouse École des Beaux-Arts where he studied both painting and sculpture and in 1853 was awarded the Toulouse municipal prize for sculpture, which allowed him to study at the Beaux-Arts in Paris, with Toulouse making a contribution towards payment of his fees and expenses. Once he arrived in Paris he worked in the studio of Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse so that he could earn some extra cash to supplement the Toulouse funds and then moved to Jean-Louis Chenillon’s studio. In 1854 he finally entered the École des Beaux-Arts and there won the Prix de Rome in 1859. He was then 23 years of age, so very near the Prix de Rome age limit. Winning this prestigious prize not only gave him a welcome bursary and access to further funds, but allowed him to travel to and study in Rome and whilst there he executed several pieces. The first piece he sent back to France was a bas-relief entitled “Des Joueurs de cerceau” and then “Thésée enfant”, a work in marble and his first work accepted by the Salon. He also completed in Rome the work “Omphale” worked in marble, and “Nuccia la trastecerina.” both of which made the Salon, the latter being purchased by the State. It was however his 1864 submission to the Salon called “le Vainqueur au combat de coqs” which was to make his reputation. When he returned to Paris from Rome in 1867, his work was already well known and highly regarded and he sealed this with his Salon submission “Tracisius” now held in the Musee D’orsay in Paris. . Now from his small studio in the rue de l’Ouest, later called the rue d’Assas, he produced work after work. In 1868 he was awarded the Medal of Honour at the Paris Salon and was appointed Officer of the Légion of Honor in 1878, in 1889 becoming a “commandeur” of that order. He had been made a member of the Académie française in 1882 and in the same year was made professor at the École des Beaux-arts. In 1870, with Paris under siege by the Prussian army, Alexandre Falguière enrolled in the National Guard and it was at this time that he made a sculpture from snow called “La Résistance” a work celebrated by the poets Théodore de Banville and Théophile Gautier, both fellow members of the guard. The 1880s saw a huge demand for statues, France being gripped by statue mania and Falguière was swamped by commissions. By the end of his life Falguière was running five studios and had many pupils including Idrac, Injalbert, Marqueste, Théodore-Rivière and Antonin Mercié. His output was prolific, many of his compositions being repeated in various materials and sizes. Many of his original plaster works were cast in bronze or sculpted in marble so that the same work can be seen in various locations, albeit in different materials and of different dimensions and many of his maquettes are preserved in museums. Also Referenced in Pierre Kjellberg, «Les bronzes du XIX ème siècle», Editions d el’Amateur, Paris, page 312.
Dimensions: 29″ ( 74 cm ) H x 28″ ( 71 cm ) W x 17″ ( 43 cm ) D
Ref. PG HY6142