Bronze equestrial statue by Pierre Jules Mène, signed and dated 1863
Pierre Jules Mène (1810 - 1877) was born in Paris. He was the most successful and prolific animalier sculptor of his time, and he is considered an equal to any in ability. His father was a successful metal turner who taught his son how to work with metals and the principles of casting at an early age. Like the artists Barye and Fremiet, Mène spent a great deal of his time at the Jardin des Plantes in Paris drawing. There he invested many hours sketching the animals from which he would make his sculptures. Though he did receive minimal instruction in art he never attended any of the prestigious art schools and was for the most part a self taught artist.
By 1837 Mène had established the first of his many foundries where he would cast all of his own bronzes throughout his successful career. His first exhibit was at the Salon of 1838 of a Dog and Fox which he cast in bronze. Mène continued to exhibit at the annual Salons, submitting one or more models every year throughout his lifetime. Mène won several medals at the annual Salon as well as being awarded First Class Medals at the London Exhibitions of 1855 and 1861. His favorite subjects were horses of which he is considered to be the master at portraying. He created bronze sculpture ranging from animal portraits, to combat groups, to domestic animals, and equestrian groups of both racing and hunting. It is estimated that he modeled over 150 different subjects during his lifetime.
In 1861 Mène was awarded the Cross of the Legion d'Honneur in recognition for his contributions to art. His bronzes were cast with the highest quality, detail, and workmanship, literally setting a new standard that all other foundries tried to meet. After his death in 1877 his foundry was run by his son-in-law Auguste Cain.