Emmanuel Fremiét1824 - 1910
Born: December 6, 1824, Paris, France
Died: September 10, 1910, Paris France
Emmanuel Fremiét began his study of art at an early age, encouraged by several of his artistic family members. Both his mother and cousin Sophie were artists who helped him realize his talent, and his uncle, the famous sculptor Francois Rude, had an enormous influence. By 1838, Fremiét was taking evening classes at the Petit Ecole in Paris, and by the age of seventeen, he had gone from being painter Jacques-Christophe Werner's apprentice to assuming the role of that master's head lithographer. All the while Fremiét continued to study sculpture and modeling with Rude until Cousin Sophie convinced the sculptor to officially take Fremiét as his pupil in 1842. By 1843, Fremiét had been accepted to the Paris Salon for his submission of a plaster statuette of a gazelle.
Throughout his career, Fremiét focused on sculpting the animal form, and became known for his depictions of animals in battle with humans. As a young man, the sculptor had spent considerable amounts of time at the Paris zoological gardens and the Jardin des Plantes studying both live and deceased animals in order to understand how to represent them accurately. Additionally, he had worked in the Paris Morgue touching up embalmed corpses, and had gained considerable knowledge of the human form through that experience.
Fremiét often had success at the annual Salon exhibitions, winning many awards and medals for his bronze sculptures. Until about 1872, the sculptor focused his energies on creating small-scale bronze animal subjects that he personally cast and marketed on his own. He also began receiving state commissions after 1850, and completed a large project for Napoleon III (ordered in 1853) that included 72 Figures from the Army of the Second Empire executed in a variety of materials.
The Franco-Prussian War caused Fremiét to flee his Paris home in 1870, and he became disillusioned with his career as a sculptor upon his return; for a time, he refused to draw or model. Despite this period of self-doubt, however, Fremiét went on to succeed Antoine-Louis Barye as professor of zoological drawing at the Musee National d'Histoire Naturelle in 1875. This appointment solidified Fremiét's position as France's foremost sculptor of the Animalier movement. He continued to sculpt and exhibit until his death in 1910, although he dedicated a great deal of his later career to teaching. In addition to his professorship at the Natural History Museum, he was also director of sculpture at the Louvre, and taught classes in his private studio.
Fremiét's models continued to be cast throughout the period immediately following the sculptor's death, until the outbreak of World War I, by the Paris foundry of F. Barbedienne. His work is represented today in significant museums across the world, though the largest collection of Fremiét's bronzes can be found in the Musee des Beaux-Arts in Dijon, France.