Antoine-Louis Barye

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Antoine-Louis Barye
Lion in Repose in a Landscape
Watercolor, over black chalk, with selective scraping and blotting on wove paper.
6 x 9 9/16 inches (152 x 242 mm)
Bequest of John S. Thacher.

A male lion with a full mane and black-tipped tail rests with his massive head against his upturned paw in a dry and rocky landscape. This sheet is a quintessential example of Barye's talents as a watercolorist. After years of close study of animals in the simulated habitats of Paris zoos, Barye transported the majestic cat to an imagined setting in a dry and mountainous landscape. Highly finished drawings such as this one, signed by the artist, were retained by Barye in his studio rather than exhibited or sold to collectors. The artist's effort to place the animals he cast in popular bronzes into a context and palette that situates them in the world instead of as isolated figures can be appreciated as an extension of his passion for his living subjects and their displacement in their modern menageries of Paris.
Barye often experimented with variations, counterproofs, and other ways of replicating works. A slightly smaller sheet with the same composition is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (29.100.580). In the Met watercolor, Barye's palette is less colorful, and the landscape is less detailed, with a broader view of the distance. Barye might have used the Met sheet to set the animal in the landscape before working it into the present highly finished sheet.
Eugène Leroux's lithograph was based on the Morgan's watercolor and printed by Bertauts, Paris, during the 1850s as part of the "Souvenirs d'Artistes" series.
Zieseniss, Charles-Otto, and Barye, Antoine Louis. "Les Aquarelles De Barye : Étude Critique Et Catalogue Raisonné / Charles Otto Zieseniss." Paris: Librarie Centrale Des Beaux-Arts, C. Massin, 1954, A7


Signed in pen and brown ink, at lower left, "Barye".
Watermark: none

John S. Thacher, Washington, D.C.
Associated names: 

Thacher, John S., former owner.


Ryskamp, Charles, ed. Twenty-First Report to the Fellows of the Pierpont Morgan Library, 1984-1986. New York : Pierpont Morgan Library, 1989, p. 317.

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