A Fine Pair of Bronze Urns or Vases and Covers After a Design Believed to Have Been Made By the French Animalier Auguste Nicolas Cain c.1870
The urns each on a shaped black marble socle, decorated overall in high relief with lizards and snails amongst dense fruiting vines, with further vines on the cover and finial. French, c.1870.
Although of basically classical form, the vases are essentially Campana urns, these beautiful pieces are believed to have been designed by one of the most important of the 19th century French school of sculptors now known as Les Animaliers due to their skill in capturing the likenesses of animals, both wild and domestic, in bronze. Auguste Nicolas Cain (1821-1894) was apprenticed to the even more renowned P. J. Mene-also an animalier-and later married his mentor’s daughter. Showing great promise from an early age, Cain first exhibited at the Salon in Paris in 1846 and between this date and 1888 he exhibited no less than 38 models in exhibitions in this venue. From around 1868, Cain began to concentrate on monumental sculpture and one of his most famous pieces, a lioness carrying a peacock to her cubs, was spotted in advance of being exhibited at the Paris Exhibition of 1867 and a cast was generously presented to the people of Glasgow where it stands to this day in Kelvingrove Park. Later a further cast was presented to the people of New York and it stands in Central Park Zoo.
These fine urns display all of Cain’s trademark attention to detail and the quality of the casting is outstanding. The urns are covered in very high relief sculpted detail, comprising vines, fruit, snails and lizards and the textures of the surfaces are brought out by extremely fastidious chasing.
Although rare models, other versions of this design have appeared on the art market in the recent past. However we have not yet been able to find another pair which retained their covers. It is most satisfying that ours have survived in such fine condition and they would grace any fine interior, sure to be a talking point in any setting.