Antoine Bourdelle Bronze Head, ca. 1900
Well, I inherited it from my mother. I have no idea where she got it. She bought it in probably some shop, maybe 40, 50 years ago.
And was she a collector?
A little bit. We had a lot of art around the house.
And did she ever tell you anything about this?
She told us it was valuable, and that was about it, and not to break it.
Do you think she paid much for it?
I don't know what she paid for it.
Uh-huh-- it's a wonderful sculpture, it's by the French artist Antoine Bourdelle. And he was born in 1861, and he died in 1929. He was one of the leading French sculptors of the late 19th and early 20th century. He trained at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts with leading sculptors, and later on, his work was admired by Auguste Rodin, who was probably the most famous of the French 19th century artists, and he was a studio assistant for Rodin. And they had these ateliers, and they would train other sculptors. So this is sort of a long list of other sculptors who were trained by Bourdelle. He was very successful in his day. He actually exhibited in New York City in 1913. There was a famous Armory Show of modern and contemporary art, and he exhibited in that show. He received a huge number of commissions for public works and public monuments, so his work is really prominent in France. What's interesting about him, also, is that his home and studio is now a museum in Paris, the Musée Bourdelle. It's a wonderful sculpture, fresh and lively, it has a real personality and expression. I love the way the hair is done in this very impressionistic way. It's beautifully cast. It was probably made around 1900. So it's very clearly signed here on the side, "A. Bourdelle". And then on the back, it has the foundry mark. There is a number on the side of this, it's a five, and sculptures were usually made in very small editions of five or six. This was cast with the lost-wax process, and it's a process that yielded wonderful, wonderful detail. And I think what's important about Bourdelle and major artists is the way they're able to capture the personality of the sitter. It is sort of small, most of his work is much larger and monumental, but his work is very, very desirable. A piece like this in a gallery setting would be worth about $6,000.
Wow. That's great.
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