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 Pierre Jules (P.J.) Mene  (1810 - 1879)

About: Pierre Jules (P.J.) Mene
 

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Lived/Active: France      Known for: realistic animal sculpture, dogs, horses, wildlife

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BIOGRAPHY for Pierre Jules Mene
Facts/Data
Birth
1810 (Paris, France)
 
Death
1879 (Paris, France)

Lived/Active
France

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realistic animal sculpture, dogs, horses, wildlife

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

PIERRE JULES MENE (1810-1879)
 
Pierre Jules Mene, (P. J. Mene), was born in Paris in March of 1810 and died in Paris at number 9 Rue de L'Entrepot on May 21, 1879.  The son of a metal turner, he received his earliest teaching on sculpture and foundry work from his father, and he opened his own foundry in the 1850s, creating lost-wax castings of his sculptures in bronze.  Although mostly self-taught, Mene was encouraged by sculptor Rene Compaire, and was also influenced by two painters: Edwin Landseer of England with his expressive sentimentality, as well as Carle Vernet of France, in capturing spirit, grace and compositional beauty in sculptural form. 

Much of Mene's early studies were made at the "Jardin des Plantes" in Paris, where he developed great talent for animal sculpture.  He first exhibited the bronze statuette entitled Dog and Fox at the Paris Salon in 1838, and from that time exhibited regularly until his death. He received four awards from the Paris Salon: Second Class in 1848, First Class in 1852 and 1861, and a Third Class award in 1855.  Mene did not sculpt statues, but rather bronze statuettes generally of domestic and farm animals at rest, (horses, dogs, cows, bulls, sheep and goats). He modeled over 150 subjects, and received the "Cross of the Legion of Honor" in 1861. He exhibited in England at the Great Expositions of 1855, 1867 and 1878, where he was praised as the "Landseer" of sculpture.

P. J. Mene was one of the most prolific and popular sculptors of the Animalier School, as well as one of it's earliest pioneers.  His sculptures were widely collected by the public. His only sculpture acquired by the State of France during his lifetime was the bronze Mounted Huntsman and His Hounds.  Charming and charismatic, Mene was accepted socially within the various French artistic communities. 

Mene's earliest works, (such as Tiger and Alligator), reflected Antoine-Louis Barye's influence,  but in contrast with the romantic style of Barye, Mene's style evolved in a contrasting way. He excelled in realistic portrayals of animals, sculpting each in their natural habitat, capturing fleeting movements and delicate details.  Generally, his sculptures were portraits with a hint of human personality.  Mene was praised for his "perfection in modeling the figures of animals, and for the truth and beauty of his representations."  He worked in the Juste Milieu, blending romantic and naturalist elements while retaining a degree of traditionalism.

Mene's casts were of the  highest quality and patinas.  The last cast of an addition was edited as sharply as the first, and he was meticulous in the after work of his bronze casts, chiseling extremely fine details.  His bronzes were signed in block letters "P. J. Mene"  with no foundry marks.  He taught his son-in-law, Auguste Cain, who continued Mene's foundries from 1879 to 1892.  Subsequently, Mene's models were sold to the Susse Freres Foundry which cast well into the 20th century.  Many recasts have been produced.

Sources:
1. Dictionnaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs, E. Benezit, 1956;
2. Bronze Sculpture of "Les Animaliers," Jane Horswell, 1971;
3. Dr. Dave Welch


Biography from Red Fox Fine Art:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Pierre Mêne, born in Paris, France, March of 1810, learned the basic principles of sculpture from his father, a metal turner. Later, after working as a modeler for porcelain manufacturers in a style popularized at Sèvres by Marie Antoinette, he studied with René Compaire, showing a clear preference for modeling animals. Mêne, along with other animalier sculptors, studied, modeled and sketched his subjects at the Jardin des Plantes as well as in the studio. He also studied animal anatomy in order to improve the accuracy of his work. He began exhibiting at the Paris Salon in 1838.

Mêne worked out of his own foundry for several years early in his career, selling his work through catalogues such as the one he issued jointly with his son-in-law, the sculptor August Nicholas Cain. He was very successful and never found it necessary to seek government commissions.

He lived his entire life in Paris, although he traveled from time to time; he took part in the Great Exhibitions of 1851 and 1862 in London and attained popularity in England second only to that he enjoyed in France.

He modeled mostly domestic animals, frequently horses; his bronzes of horses and jockeys were among his most popular, and other equestrian subjects also attracted favorable attention. His models of pointers, setters and foxhounds suggest a familiarity with shooting and foxhunting, although nothing is known of his participation in field sports.

Mêne died in Paris in 1879.

Source(s):

Forrest, Michael. Art Bronzes. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 1988.

Horswell, Jane.Les Animaliers: Reference and Price Guide. Woodbridge, Suffolk, UK: The Antique Collectors' Club, 1971.

Kjellberg, Pierre. Bronzes of the 19th Century. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing LTD, 1994.

Mackay, James. The Animaliers-A Collector's Guide to the Animal Sculptors of the 19th & 20th Centuries. Suffolk, England: The Antique Collectors Club, 1985.

Payne, Christopher. Animals in Bronze: Reference and Price Guide.Woodbridge, Suffolk, UK: The Antique Collectors' Club, 1986.

Biography from Thomas Nygard Gallery:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Largely self-taught, Pierre Mene exhibited in the Paris salons between 1838 and 1897. This activity proved successful in both gaining prizes and purchasers for his edition bronzes. He issued a catalog from which orders were cast in his own foundry and offered a variety of patinas. The bold, deep, sharply-incised signature, P.J. Mene can help identify his early casts.

Unlike most sculptors, Mene was indebted to no one and adequately supported his family while doing things his way. The Mene home was an active meeting place for his many friends musicians, artists, and sculptors alike. His "humanized" animal sculptures are widely collected on both sides of the Atlantic.

Source:
Thomas Nygard Gallery, Bozeman, MT


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