Antoine-Louis Barye (French, 1796–1875)
The Turkish Horse
Plaster with wax, 5 1/4 x 5 1/8 in.
Signed: BARYE (incised on top of base, right side)
Cheval Turc no. 4, antérieur gauche levé, terrasse carrée(raised left front leg, square base)
Barye’s ability to render animals with unsurpassed realism while imbuing them with a sense of emotion prompted critic Théophile Gautier to dub him the “Michelangelo of the menagerie.” The present subject is informed by the famed equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius in Rome, but also demonstrates how completely Barye internalized the anatomical clarity and compositional tension found in the horse imagery of his own master, Théodore Géricault (1791–1824). Barye modeled no less than seven different versions of The Turkish Horse, this being one of only two known original plasters for the smallest bronze reduction of it. Adding wax patches to the surface of the plaster allowed the artist to further enhance the details of his modeling, and they now offer an unusual insight into the processes of casting sculpture in the 19th century. The dating of the various models is quite complex as different foundries produced them over a long period of time.