Paul Edouard Delabrierre was born in Paris, France, in 1829. An important member of the Animalier school in late 19th Century Paris, Delabrierre studied art under the painter Delestre but found his true calling was the rendering of three-dimensional sculptures. Greatly influenced by the great Antoine Louis Barye, many of his combat models show a violence of nature that was very popular at the time. While the majority of his sculptures featured animals, he did often incorporate figures as well as animals.
Delabrierre first exhibited at the Salon in 1848, with his wax model of a terrier holding a hare, and continued submitting works regularly until 1882. His popular and realistic subjects are very well detailed and finished, placing him in the top echelons of Animalier school students. In fact, over the years, he submitted 70 different pieces to the Salon in Paris and all of these can be found in the Dictionnaire de Sculpteurs de l’ecole Francaise by Stanaslas Lami. In the final two years of his exhibiting career, Delabrierre experimented with iron as a worthy material for the Salon, although that idea was not particularly liked by collectors who were already accustomed to bronzes at the time.
Delabrierre’s versatility was one of his biggest strengths. The range of animals he sculpted covers nearly every large mammal to be found in continental Europe. While his favourite subjects tended to be dogs and big cats, he also completed a few lion, panther, camel and bird sculptures during his career. In fact, he exhibited his Javanese panther in plaster in 1857 and a Bengal tiger at the 1865 Salon. He portrayed realism in nearly all his sculptures and, his 1870 bronze sculpture of a dog defecating took this realism to a whole new level. While unusual, the subject matter of this piece played a big part in the lack of interest and therefore sales of this sculpture.
His most famous work is undoubtedly ‘L’Equitation’. This piece, depicting a horse and two putti, one of whom is aboard the horse, was one of his largest groups of work and was incorporated into the Louvre’s facade in 1857.
Delabrierre sadly passed away in 1912, at the age of 83, but you will find many examples of his work at the Musee de Picardie in Amiens, France.