Bronze Portrait- "Dog Stretching" (Dogue s'étirant)
Emmanuel Fremiet (1824-1910)
3-3/4 x 8 inches
For other examples see
"Animals in Bronze" by Christopher Payne, p. 200
"Les Animaliers" by Jane Horswell p. 190
This beautiful cabinet sculpture shows a dog as he wakes, flexes his legs and turns his head to the left, stretching his neck. This is an early cast by Charles More who produced many of Fremiet’s small animal sculptures. Though it’s not clear as to the breed of the dog, this figure is also known as Dogue s'étirant (Stretching Mastiff)
Emmanuel Frémiet (1824-1910) was born in Paris into an upper middle class family that had very close ties to the art world. By the age of five he was already receiving formal art training. The start at such a young age meant he was able to be accepted at the renowned Ecole des Arts Decoratifs School at the age of sixteen.
With his immersion into art studies at such a young age, Fremiet became head lithographer at a printing shop when he was still in his teens. There he prepared the figural animal and human drawings for reproduction. Eventually his brother-in-law Francois Rude, the celebrated sculptor, was convinced to accept Fremiet as a pupil to further his art education. He also studied drawing with his equally famous uncle, the natural history painter Jacques-Christophe Werner.
Further early vocations in trying to advance his artistic career included modelling sacred subjects for commercial sale, creating anatomical specimens in wax for the Museum of Medicine. Fremiet also had a stint at the morgue, overpainting blemishes on bodies prior to embalming.
Fremiet proved to be a tireless worker and a steadfast researcher. This determination would assist him in his meticulous and accurate portrayals of his sculptures. This dedication to precision was to be seen not only in his anatomical expressions but in the correctness of the uniforms, armor and the trappings of his equestrian models as well.
In 1843 when he was nineteen, Fremiet first exhibited at the Paris Salon. He continued exhibiting at the Salon for the remainder of his life and was awarded various medals for many of his pieces.
In time, after the death in 1875 of Antoine Louis Barye, Fremiet was appointed as Professor of Drawing at the Museum of Natural History. With this new position, and like many other great sculptors, he spent time studying and drawing at the morgue and went to various embalmers across Paris which provided him the precise measurements of the muscle and bone structure of both people and animals. This training, along with his dexterous modeling skills, provided him with the ability to express minute psychological details of subject matter at a time when naturalism in art was ascendant.
Though earning numerous major commissions for very large-scale public sculptures at the Tuileries Gardens, the Musee d’Orsay, and many others, Fremiet also made small, very finely detailed bronze figures of animals. These smaller scale works of art are still highly sought after by both collectors and museums. Fremiet’s pieces were frequently soft and gentle and expressed a sweet, amusing side of nature. These pieces which can be at times charming and full of life were in contrast to the more brutal depictions of the animal world by many famous sculptors working at the same time.
By the age of twenty-five, Fremiet received more commissions than any other sculptor before or during his time. It became near impossible to be able to walk the streets without seeing one of Fremiet’s many bronze sculptures, both smaller works of art and those of monumental size. Throughout his long career, Fremiet would pass his knowledge on to students, frequently taking on 20 at a time.
Fremiet’s work is represented in many museums in France and in the provinces, notably the Museum of Decorative Arts, in Paris as well as the Musee d’Orsay, the New York Historical Society, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and countless others.
top of page
bottom of page