Antoine-Louis Barye is considered the “Father of the French Animalier School” that became popular in the middle of the nineteenth century. The Animalier movement was notable for its realistic and naturalistic portrayal of animals. Barye addressed themes such as wild animals in dramatic action pitted against each other in the struggle for survival. He was also instrumental in foundry practices and placed a great deal of energy and passion into the fabrication of his bronzes. Barye was extremely influential to generations of European and American sculptors. He received many commissions. He also executed many public works and monuments around France. His works are represented in the great museums throughout the world, with large collections in American institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, N.Y.; the Brooklyn Museum; the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore; the Baltimore Museum of Art; and the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.
Barye’s chief patron from the 1860’s on was W.T. Walters of Baltimore, whose collection is now the Walters Art Gallery, and who saw to it that Barye produced 120 works for the Corcoran Gallery in Washington the year before Barye died. Other American collectors were Cyrus J. Lawrence, James F. Sutton, Samuel P. Avery, Richard M. Hunt, George A. Lucas and Theodore Roosevelt. These nineteenth-century enthusiasts and their heirs so enriched our American public collections that they now hold more works of Barye than any other sculptor.
The Tartar Warrior in patinated bronze was featured in the catalogue of works that Barye submitted to the Universal Exposition in Paris in 1855. It is not difficult to imagine the success of this sculpture with the artist’s bourgeoisie clientele who were mesmerized by the decorativeness of this ferocious Asian warrior in all his warlike attire violently reining in his horse. At the time Barye created the Tartar Warrior he was acclaimed by most as the finest sculptor of the French Animaliers School. Barye portrays his Tartar Warrior as wearing plate and chain-mail armor over fur outerwear. The Tartars were known as the fiercest fighters of the Golden Horde of the Mongols who swept out of Asia and Eastern Europe. Riding with Genghis Khan, these lawless marauders were reputed to have ransacked many parts of the ancient world. What sources Barye consulted in depicting this exotic warrior subject are unclear. Very few casts of this sculpture were issued during Barye's lifetime.
Private Collection Burbank, CA