Antoine-Louis Barye (1795-1875)
Barye led the Romantic animalier school, mading animals the focus of artistic subject, rather than subjugating them to the background. Following in his father's footsteps, Barye first worked as a goldsmith and refined his metalworking skills. He is recognized as one of the first modern sculptors to have cast, chiseled, and patinated his own bronze work.
His true passion, however, was observing and sketching animals. One of his sketching companions at the Jardin was Eugene Delacroix, who admired Barye's artistic technique, stating, "I wish I could put a twist in a tiger's tail like that man." Barye's sculptures reflect his understanding of animal anatomy, but what impressed critics and public most was the ferocity of the animals, the pitiless display of "nature, red in tooth and claw."
What set Barye apart from the other Romantic artists of the time was not just his ability to realistically depict animals, but his ability to imbue these creatures with a full range of the nuances of human feeling. Barye struggled for 13 years with the French Academy's position against featuring animals as the main subject of an artwork, yet he overcame their conservative front and was eventually accepted into the Academy.
In 1848, he was promoted to jury member of the Salon and became the curator of castings at the Louvre. In 1854 he was appointed to Master of Zoological Drawing at the Museum of Natural History and in 1855 won the gold medal for sculpture at the Universal Exposition.