Auguste Nicholas Cain (1822 - 1894) was born in Paris, France November 16th 1822. He was a highly competent member of the Animalier school. Cain studied under Rude, Guionnet and Pierre Jules Mene whose daughter he married in 1852 which was the tradition of Paris craftsmen in the mid 19th century. An Artisan would marry their mentor's daughter, or even widow, in order to easily continue the workshop or business. Cain also worked in his father-in-law's foundry, where some of his larger monumental animals were cast but a few of his large works were cast by Barbedienne. All of his works were exclusively edited by the sculptor himself to a high quality that can be seen in his bronzes.
Auguste Cain's first exhibit in the Salon of 1846 was a wax model of a Linnet defending her nest from a Rat. This Model was later cast in bronze and again shown at the 1855 Salon. He exhibited 38 models at the Salon from 1846 to 1888. Some of the awards he won were, a Third Class Medal in 1851 for his bronze of an Egyptian Vulture, a Third Class Medal in 1863 for a bronze of a Vulture and Buzzard hunting Partridges, and a Third class Medal at the Paris Exposition Universelle of 1867 for a Family of Tigers. He concentrated a great deal on animals in their natural habitat, especially the somewhat gruesome carnivores and combats between animals, but also sculpted a wide range of domestic and farmyard animals as well, often with a rather humorous touch thus creating a character for each of his animals. His works always conveyed great realism, not so much in the formation of bone and muscle which was always well modeled and finished, but in the attention to detail of the bases, which would invariably include a rat or a stalk of wheat, and rarely only a token blade of grass or a tree stump.
Cain produced very few small bronzes after 1868, instead he concentrated on the state monuments that he was called upon to cast. The 'Chiens de meute' in the park at the Château de Chantilly, the Lion and Ostrich in the Luxembourg Gardens, and the Tigress and Peacock in the Gardens of the Tuileries are some of his most famous monuments. He took over the foundry and works of his father-in-law, P. J. Mene, after his death in 1879, continuing to produce Mene's works until 1893. After Cain died in 1894 the foundry was closed and all of Cain's and P. J. Mene's plasters and models were sold to the foundries of Susse Freres and Barbedienne and they both continued casting them into the 20th century.
The life of Auguste Cain is documented in the following books:
Les Animaliers by Jane Horsell (1971)
The Animaliers by James Mackay (1973)
Animals in Bronze by Christopher Payne (1986)
Bronzes of the 19th Century by Pierre Kjellberg (1994)
A Concise History of Bronzes by George Savage (1968)
Dictionnaire des Peintres et Sculpteurs by E. Benezit (1966)
Dictionnaire de Sculpteurs de l'ecole Francaise by Stanaslas Lami (1914)
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