2013, Rembrandt Bugatti: Emotions

The Sladmore Gallery is delighted to curate this loan exhibition, gathering the animal pairings and groupings sculpted by Rembrandt Bugatti.

All seventeen sculptures featured depict pairs or family groups of animals and have been generously loaned by collectors both in the UK and abroad. Works have been chosen to illustrate the sculptor’s unique ability to capture the attitudes and emotion of his subjects and demonstrate the unusual empathy he had for all creatures. Bugatti conveyed a true sense of tenderness between beasts, both amongst the same species, like the antelopes in ‘La Mère Blessée’ or peculiar mismatches like the unique ‘Lion Cub and Greyhound’, telling of the affection developed between the Greyhound adoptive mother of Atlas, an orphaned lion cub.

These groups were also a part of his Bugatti’s sculptural method in a kind of conversation of form and shape. Repeated elements interspersed with individual variation are not only a means employed by composers and musicians to create familiarity of tune and rhythm, but also a sculptural device in through which Bugatti could exploit the small differences that emphasised the personal characteristics of the individual animals and birds he was portraying whilst at the same time celebrating them for their own sake.

About The Artist

Born in Milan in 1884, Rembrandt Bugatti was one of the most talented sculptors of the twentieth century. In a career that spanned little more than a dozen years before it was cut short in 1916 by his tragic suicide at the age of 31, he created a prodigious body of work. His art combined huge technical finesse, formal beauty, intensity of expression and subtle stylistic inventiveness.

Bugatti regularly visited the zoos at the Jardin des Plantes in Paris, and Antwerp, and he always modelled his works directly in front of the animals that were his subjects. At the age of nineteen, he came into contact in Paris with the bronze founder Adrien A. Hébrard, and held his first exhibition at the Galerie Hébrard in 1904.

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Exhibition Catalogue

There are good artists, and interesting artists, and there are great artists. A career of some length helps to make the case, of course, but there are any number of examples to prove it not essential – Van Gogh, Modigliani, Raphael and Caravaggio come immediately to mind. A significant talent snuffed out before the age of 40 is always to be regretted, but the work remains.

So it is with the sculptor Rembrandt Bugatti: born in 1884, already a figure on the international stage by the time he was 19, and dead by his own hand early in 1916 at barely 31, yet another psychological casualty of the Great War. Of his being a good artist there can be little doubt, and interesting he and his work most certainly are. But is he a great artist? There is indeed a case to be made, though it seldom is.

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Rembrandt Bugatti

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