Christophe Fratin (1801-1864)
Christophe Fratin, French school, was born in Metz in 1801 and died in Raincy in 1864. Some texts erroneously give his date of birth as 1790, others as 1800 and some as 1802. He studied first under Pioche and then sculpture under Gericault. From 1831 until 1863 he exhibited at the Paris Salon and in 1851 in London.
Horse He was primarily an "animalier", an animal sculptor. Many of his bronzes represent lions, tigers, hunting scenes, one animal attacking another, deer, dogs, eagles, vultures and horses. He is also famous for a series of bears performing humorous tasks, such as taking a bath in a tub, dancing, or as dentists and musicians, and sometimes involved in acrobatic exercises. Among other subjects are monkeys, cows, bulls, parrots, pheasants, herons, storks, pelicans, wolves, donkeys, frogs, tortoises, snakes, boars, rhinoceros, elephants, cats, goats, gazelles, antelopes, hares, a boy and his dog. In addition to statues he created bronze vases, centerpiece bowls, inkwells and candlesticks which incorporate animals such as panthers, bears, birds, or monkeys. He was a prolific artist.
The Bear Dentist While some of his pieces have a smooth and naturalistic surface finish, he also had a much rougher style where tool marks and the raw aspect of the clay he worked with are clearly visible. One would compare this to palette work and the use of strong impasto in certain paintings. Less common than his bronzes he also produced ceramic pieces and clay reliefs, some of which are patinaed or gilt. Fratin also created walking stick handles and fancy boxes, such as jewelry chests and decorative bronze parts for furniture.
His works are in numerous collections including the museums in Baltimore, London, Vienna, Paris, Lyon, Chalons-sur-Marne, Nimes, Compiegne, and Metz, his native town. Eagles and Prey is displayed in New York's Central Park since 1863. A large bronze, Eagle and Vulture Disputing their Prey, is at Babelberg castle in Germany.