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Pierre Jules Mêne, (1810 -1879), was a French Sculptor and Animalière. He is considered to be the pioneer of animal sculpture in the nineteenth-century.

Mêne produced a number of animal sculptures, mainly of domestic animals like horses, cows and bulls, sheep, goats, etc., which were in vogue during the Second Empire. He was one of a "school of French animalières" which also included Pierre Louis Rouillard, Antoine-Louis Barye, Auguste Caïn, and François Pompon. Mêne himself specialized in small bronze figures which explains why none of his works exist as public statuary.

His work was a popular success with the bourgeois class and many editions of each sculpture were made, often to decorate the increasingly private homes of the period. The quality of these works is high, comparable to Barye's. Mêne also seems to have enjoyed a longer period of success and celebrity than his contemporaries. He is considered to have been the Lost-wax casting expert of his time, later surpassed only by Auguste Rodin.

However, because Mêne was so prolific and because so many editions of his works were made, his work is devalued in the current market, and forgeries of his works abound.

Bibliography

  • catalogue raisonné of Pierre-Jules Mêne by Michel Poletti and Alain Richarme (Paris, 1998). Includes a catalogue of 240 models with a history of editions from 1838 to 1933; biography; context of life and work in Second Empire Paris (In French).

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