This ceramic sculpture of an imaginary animal is the product of two unusual and creative collaborations: the first between the sculptor Emmanuel Frémiet and the architect Viollet le-Duc, and the second between Frémiet and the ceramist Emile Muller. In the early 1870s Frémiet supplied plaster models of four fantastic creatures for the medieval château of Pierrefonds, which Viollet-le-Duc was restoring for Napoleon III. Viollet-le-Duc's restorations were intended to embody the spirit of the ruined feudal castle, and Frémiet's sculptures for Pierrefonds deliberately evoked a highly romanticized medieval past. The four plaster animals were carved in stone in the mid-i88os; several years later Frémiet arranged for Muller's ceramic factory, La Grande Tuilerie, to cast the animals in stoneware. In the cast stoneware versions Frémiet and Muller were able to introduce color through the use of copper-based glazes. The mottled rich red and turquoise glaze was the result of oxidation in the glaze firing, and the variations in the coloration were deliberately sought and valued. The stoneware animals apparently were produced in very limited quantities. This animal is numbered I and is one of only two examples of this model known.
[ Charles Janoray, LLC , New York, until 2003; sold to MMA ]