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'Life in Bronze': Sotheby's partners with the Sladmore Gallery
François Pompon, Boston Terrier, 'Toy', chien de Madame Georges Menier, est. £15,000-20,000. Courtesy Sotheby's.

LONDON.- Sladmore: Life in Bronze celebrates the beauty and versatility of bronze as a sculptural medium. Each sculptor represented in this auction has a unique approach to modelling in clay and then casting, chasing and patinating the model in bronze. Within this variety the sculptors all respond to the elegant movement and individual character of their animal and figurative subjects.

The Sladmore Gallery in London has been at the vanguard of an appreciation of animal sculpture in bronze since it was opened by the Horswell family in Bruton Place in the 1960s. Continued today by successive members of the same family, they are now centralising their business in Jermyn Street.

Speaking of the decision to hold a sale, Edward Horswell said: "The Sladmore Gallery opened in Bruton Place fifty-three years ago. We outgrew that one location, so we took on Jermyn Street. Now we've come to the very hard decision of closing the Bruton Place location, but we are very excited to be able to have everything under the one roof, and we look forward to the next 25 years with the next generation of the family coming into the business."

The sale presents a curated selection of sculptures drawn from the full range of their activity. It includes the finest casts by the greatest 19th-century animalier sculptor, Antoine-Louis Barye, the exquisite bronzes of Rembrandt Bugatti, and the gallery’s contemporary sculptors, with works by Mark Coreth, Geoffrey Dashwood and Sophie Dickens. The sale also includes a selection of figurative bronzes.

Speaking about the special appeal of bronze, Edward Horswell, added: "Why bronze? Throughout time, man realised fairly early on that bronze was the perfect metal to cast. It's malleable. It takes patina well. In the hands of a great sculptor, it just comes alive. Some people like something that has been created by the artist's hands, with an impasto finish, but other people like something that's much smoother. That's the beauty of sculpture."

From Barye in the mid-19th century to Bugatti in the early 20th century, the natural elegance and raw energy of wild animals from Africa, the Middle East and the Indian sub-continent have been a constant source of inspiration to sculptors. Whilst these artists only studied their subjects in the zoos of Paris and Antwerp, their deep understanding of the anatomy and character of the animals were brought to life by their skilled modelling and the beauty of the bronze. Today, sculptors such as Jonathan Kenworthy and Mark Coreth study their subjects in the wild, giving an unmistakable immediacy and intimacy to their models.

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