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Style Other / Ref.14989

Joseph Simon Volmar (Berne, 1796-1865), Pair of bears in cast iron

Width: 42'' ⅛  107cm
Height: 88'' ¼  224cm
Depth: 47'' ⅝  121cm

19 century, French

Good condition

Joseph Simon Volmar (or Vollmar) (Bern, 1796-1865) was a Swiss painter and sculptor. Born to a painter father, he was his student at the Bern Art School and later studied in Paris between 1814 and 1824 under Horace Vernet, Théodore Géricault, and the sculptor David d’Angers. In 1836, he was appointed Extraordinary Professor of Academic Drawing and Oil Painting at the Bern Art School. His reputation extended beyond Swiss borders.

Volmar was known for his historical, landscape, and animal paintings and sculptures. During the 19th century, an era marked by the emergence of national consciousness, he secured a significant public commission for the monument to Rudolf von Erlach (c. 1299-1360), the victor of the Battle of Laupen in 1339, which preserved the independence of the city of Bern on that occasion. The architect Gottlieb Debler, the caster Rüetschi von Aarau (for the equestrian statue), and the Bisontine foundry Gandillot et Roy (for the bears) collaborated with Joseph Volmar in the construction of the monument between 1841 and 1848. Its inauguration took place during the Laupenfest in 1849, and the monument is now located on the Grabenpromenade. The presence of bears serves as a reminder of the historical identity of the city.

Two of the bears sculpted by Volmar were casted again through a private commission from the Marshal of Saxe, who likely admired the monument. Although the plate indicating their authorship and casting location is missing, a comparison with the monument allows us to attribute them to Volmar. These statues were likely cast in Besançon; since the Gandillot et Roy foundry was acquired by the Degoumois et Cie foundry in 1864, it is certain that the bears were cast before that date.

The animals, with their varied poses, detailed fur, and great expressiveness, showcase the sculptor’s mastery of animal art. One, ferocious, bares its fangs and raises its paw as if to attack, while the other is more playful, with its ball and its almost smiling expression. In both cases, the sculptor paid great attention to the detailed representation of the animals’ fur. Volmar had the opportunity to observe bears since the city of Bern housed them, and his graphic work includes numerous representations of these animals.

Thus, the bears created by Volmar for the monument to Rudolf von Erlach were so admirable that they served as models for a new casting intended for private use. To our knowledge, these bears are the only two examples that have been cast from the monument.

Price: on request

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