Barye is one of the great sculptors of the Romantic generation. He was responsible for the renewal of the undeniably popular genre of animal sculpture.
His eye for the animal kingdom reflects the taste of Romantic artists for movement, violence, the spectacular and the exotic. The Menagerie of the Natural History Museum, which he often visited with Delacroix, provided them with living models. They also dissected animal corpses to gain a better understanding of their anatomy.
The appearance of art bronze manufacturers circa 1830 facilitated mass production at affordable prices of animals of all sizes as ornaments for middle-class interiors. This work lies at the heart of the creative process for one of these bronzes. Wax was added to a plaster model to provide volume and a mould was made from this work to cast the final bronze. The dark patina of Eagle holding a heron camouflages the joins in the plaster and gives the illusion of bronze.
The collector Jacques Zoubaloff, who donated many of Barye’s pieces held at the Petit Palais, preferred to buy works which revealed the creative process rather than completed bronzes. These are rare works which provide an insight into Barye’s technique and often bear his fingerprints.