Jean-Léon Gérôme Napoleon Bronze, ca. 1900
I first saw it in the office of a friend of mine, and I particularly admired the detail on it. Every time I came back to his office, I liked it more and more and more, and I finally was able to talk him into selling it to me, and that was about 30 years ago.
30 years ago. It's a really wonderful bronze. What's unusual about it is it's by an artist who's primarily known as a painter, not as a sculptor. His name was Jean-Léon Gérôme, and he was born in the early part of the 19th century, in the 1820s. And he liked very exotic subject matters. He liked subject matters from classical antiquity. He liked Arab subject matters. He traveled to Italy, he traveled to Egypt, to North Africa, and he did wonderful, highly detailed paintings. And the piece that you have is from the year 1900, and it depicts the triumphant entry of Napoleon into Cairo. It's a beautifully made bronze. Gérôme’s father was a goldsmith, and I think part of that background is evident in the details of this piece. It has these wonderful sharp details on the scabbards for the guns, on the horse's dressing here, too. The piece is signed very nicely here in the front, and it also has the foundry mark of Siot on the back, which was one of the leading foundries in France at the time. It might have been painted at one time. Gérôme often painted the bronzes, and sometimes his sculpture incorporated pieces of ivory, marble and semiprecious stones. So it's certainly possible that this wonderful horse blanket was polychromed. How much did you pay for this 30 years ago?
I paid $1,000.
Well, that was a good amount.
A lot of money.
Yeah, then, but it's turned out to be a very nice investment, because a piece like this at auction would probably bring between $15,000 and $20,000 now.
That's a lot of money even now, you know?
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