The Steeplechase Signed "I. BONHEUR" on the top of the base at the front, incised with the foundry notation "H. Peyrol. F. bt (Paris)" along the back edge of the base. Bronze with dark brown patina, height 35 1/2 in. (90.2 cm). Condition: Stirrups on outside legs of each rider are loose, some irregular brushmarks of darker color in the patina to the inside flank and back of the saddle of the horse on the left, dust and dirt to interstices, minor wear to patina on the muzzle of the horse on the left, rein on horse on left possibly detached and crop may be slightly bent.
Provenance: The collection of Joseph Thomas Alvarez III, California.
Literature: Christopher Payne, Animals in Bronze: Reference and Price Guide (Woodbridge, Suffolk: Antique Collectors' Club, 1986), p. 345.
N.B. The younger brother of Rosa Bonheur, Isidore Bonheur was a prominent sculptor and animalier in his own right. He began studying painting with his father, but by 1848 he discontinued working in oil in favor of sculpture, enrolling at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in 1849. He is widely recognized for his small bronze groups, including sculptures of horses, cattle, sheep, and dogs, and like his sister, Isidore did not sentimentalize his animal subjects. His works were frequently cast by his brother-in-law, Hippolyte Peyrol. Like many 19th century French animaliers, Bonheur found that the market for his works was stronger in Britain.
This large double steeplechaser bronze has been described by Christopher Payne as ".one of the finest and largest groups in the animalier field." (Animals in Bronze, p. 345). Unusual and ambitious in scale, the sculpture shows the vigorous movement and keenly observed detail characteristic of the artist at his best. Estimate $120,000-180,000
Small abrasion on the boot of the right hand rider. Drips of a natural resin substance on the right flank and on the saddle of the left hand horse. Dust and dirt overall.
The horses and riders are beautifully balanced, resting on only two spots on the fence. The sculpture has its historic patina intact.
The absence of a condition statement does not imply that the lot is in perfect condition or completely free from wear and tear, imperfections or the effects of aging. Condition requests can be obtained via email (lot inquiry button) or by telephone to the appropriate gallery location (Boston/617.350.5400 or Marlborough/508.970.3000). Any condition statement given, as a courtesy to a client, is only an opinion and should not be treated as a statement of fact. Skinner Inc. shall have no responsibility for any error or omission.