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Auguste Cain

Bronze sculptor 1822 - 1894

Auguste Nicholas Cain was born in Paris, France, in 1822. A highly competent member of the Animalier school, Cain studied under Guionnet, Rude and Pierre Jules Mene, whose daughter he married in 1852. An artisan would quite often marry their mentor's daughter, or even widow, in order to easily continue the workshop or business; this was a particular tradition of Paris craftsmen in the mid 19th Century.

Cain also worked in his father-in-law's foundry, where some of his larger monumental animals were cast. A few of his larger works were cast by Barbedienne, but all of his pieces were exclusively edited by the sculptor himself to a high quality that can be seen in all his bronzes.

His first exhibit in the Salon was a wax model of a linnet defending her nest from a rat in 1846. This model was later cast in bronze and again shown at the 1855 Salon. During the years between 1846 and 1888, Cain exhibited 38 models at the Salon, winning a multitude of awards. These included a third class medal in 1851, for his bronze of an Egyptian vulture, a third class medal in 1863, for a bronze of a vulture and buzzard hunting partridges, and a third class medal at the Paris Exposition Universelle of 1867, for a bronze sculpture of a family of tigers.

His main focus was on animals in their natural habitat, especially the potentially gruesome carnivores and combats between animals. However, he did also turn his hand to a wide range of domestic and farmyard animals as well, often with a rather humorous touch. Always conveying great realism and incredible attention to detail, Cain's sculptures were a real highlight of the era.

Auguste Cain produced very few small bronze sculptures after 1868; instead, he concentrated on the state monuments that he was called upon to cast. Some of his most famous monuments include The 'Chiens de meute' in the park at the Chateau de Chantilly, the Lion and Ostrich in the Luxembourg Gardens and the Tigress and Peacock in the Gardens of the Tuileries. Following the death of his father-in-law, P.J. Mene in 1879, he took over the foundry and works, continuing to produce these until 1893. After he died in 1894, the foundry was closed and all of the plasters and models were sold to the foundries of Susse Freres and Barbedienne, which continued to cast them into the 20th Century.