Two walking panthers in bronze by Bugatti

Friday, May 24th 2019

numbered 1, with an exceptional tricolour patina on a Hébrard marble, 1905.

Two walking panthers by Bugatti
Two walking panthers by Bugatti

Rembrandt BUGATTI (Milan, 1884-Paris, 1916)

“Two walking panthers”, edition number 1, 1905

Bronze sculpture with polychrome patina: browns with shades of black and green.
Signed on the base: “RBUGATTI” and dated “(1)905”
Lost-wax cast with the foundry stamp « CIRE PERDUE A.A HEBRARD », and the edition number hand-written « 1 » next to the foundry stamp.

Height 23; total length 101,5; width 25,5 cm

Original pedestal from the Hébrard House in “sea green” marble with ferruginous inclusions, echoing the exceptional polychrome patina of the bronze.
Height 7,5; length 97,5; width 29,5 cm

Total height 32 cm

Authenticity certificate by Mrs Veronique Fromanger dated 25th of April 2019.

Provenance: collection of André Bernheim (1879-1966), for the decoration of his apartment 81 rue de Lille in Paris; by descent.

Certified as a cultural good free to travel outside of the French territory.

Private viewing in Paris by appointment on June 4 and 5
169, bd Haussmann 75008 Paris +33 1 45 44 34 34.

Download the english text

André Bernheim

Born on the 22nd of October 1879 in Toul, Meuthe-et-Moselle, André Bernheim invests in property in Paris, where he marries on the 18th of June 1907 the pianist Suzanne Cohen, student of Alfred Cortot, at the town hall of the 7th arrondissement. The couple are often seen in art galleries, tastefully furnishing their apartment at number 81 rue de Lille. There, a post-impressionist canvas by Picabia or a Baiser by Rodin can be viewed next to the bronze work. Exhibited by Hébrard for the first time in his gallery in 1906, these Walking panthers are then offered for the sum of 2000 francs. In 1921, the apartment is decorated by the duo Sue and Mare; the furniture imagined for the Bernheim are, besides, noted down under this name in the “list of models created to this day and listed in the book of references” of the decorators in 1927. Afflicted by the disappearance of his spouse in 1922, André Bernheim is unlucky a second time with the death of his eldest daughter who was deported. Intimate friend of the painter Lévy Dhurmer, of whom he is the art patron, André Bernheim will also be his legatee and executor. He dies in Paris on the 12th of February 1966.


Véronique Fromanger, “Une trajectoire foudroyante / A meteoric rise, Rembrandt Bugati, sculptor, monographic repertory”, Editions de l’Armateur, model listed as number 127: ”Two walking panthers” (C.R. 1987 p.117 and R.M 2010), Editions de l’Armateur, Paris, new edition of the Arènes of 2016, p.298 and p.53.

Related works

- The plaster of this work, kept at the Orsay museum in Paris (ref. 3576), is described as such in the Bugatti archives: “Two walking panthers = male with rising front paw and female, similar to the third of the previous group”.
- Another bronze of this model was presented in an auction sale, without an edition number, with a brown finely shaded patina, Sotheby’s sale, London, on the 4th of April 1990, “The Property of Alain Delon”, n°274.

Temporary exhibitions

- 1906, “Collection A.A. Hebrard, fondeur d’art”, A-A. Hébrard Gallery, Paris (bronze, entitled “Two panthers, 26 x 98 x 25 cm, execution limited to three waxes (2000 francs)”.
- 1988, “Les Bugatti d’Alain Delon”, Charles Bailly Gallery, Paris, bronze cast without edition number. Reproduced p.44 of the exhibition catalogue.

"Two walking panthers by Rembrandt Bugatti and A.A. Hébrard"
By Véronique Fromanger, 25th of April 2019

At the beginning of the 20th century, with a vital strike, served by a brilliant founder-editor, A.A. Hébrard, the young sculptor Rembrandt Bugatti was able to capture, in all sincerity and truth, the language of wild animals.
In all of the history of art, from prehistoric parietal art to our day, Rembrandt Bugatti’s work stands out as one of the most lively, powerful and gripping.

The group of Two walking panthers is one of the most convincing examples: the panthers are seized in movement, in action, in life-like gestures; they are present to one another with calm, tranquility, serenity and the sensual delight of being together.
In this group, originally composed of three panthers, Rembrandt Bugatti and A. A. Hébrard privileged the male and the young female, walking; their postures as well as their powerful and massive silhouettes do not diminish their infinite suppleness, agility, liveliness, flexibility.

During the mating season, panthers temporarily abandon their solitude for an ephemeral life as a couple of two or more. Rembrandt Bugatti was able to capture the permanent contact between them during this period, the subtle marks of affection that they show one another with this unique sensuality which is so particular to feline animals.

In 1905, Bugatti is at the Ménagerie of the Jardin des Plantes in Paris every day to visit the panthers, “his life and work companions”. He meets the men that feed them and care for them. Together they speak half-French and half-Italian, to understand and comment on their reactions, their habits, their characters. Knowledge of animal behavior at the beginning of the 20th century was mostly done via the study of wild animals living in captivity in parks and zoos.

Used to seeing, listening and scenting Rembrandt Bugatti, the panthers become less aggressive and go about their natural way in their enclosed space. In their slight and powerful gait, supple and muffled, Bugatti was able to capture the energy, the dynamism, the fascinating magic of the wild animal, by fashioning and modelling them from the inside.

Bugatti models his subject directly from life, in one go until completion, without preparatory sketches or photographs, without reworking the piece at the workshop or with a cast.

Then his exclusive founder-editor A. A. Hébrard executes the bronze original edition. At the beginning of the 20th century, A. A. Hébrard will create an alliance between art and industry by giving edition statuary a new revolutionary meaning: an art object becomes a work of art using an industrial artistic process. Thus, “reproductibility” becomes an essential property of a work of art without any loss of “aura”, organic character, originality or authenticity.

The account of the writer Marcel Schiltz, later in Antwerp, is more than ever relevant:
Bugatti is a young man of extreme sensitivity, it impregnates his sculptures, he transmits it to us, like a magician who tames matter and transforms it. He cannot be told that animals do not have a soul: he discovers it, he brings it to life under his artists’ hands. And that is probably where resides the secret of this creator, this gift he possessed and which remains alive in everything he produced”.
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