In this ongoing series for Fine Art Today, we take a longer look at the history and features of a soon-to-be-available artwork of note. This week: Pierre-Jules Mêne, “Jockey Riding Horse.”
Born in Paris, Pierre-Jules Mêne (1810–1879) is remembered as one of the finest animal sculptors in history. Mêne developed a skill for working with metals at an early age, as his father was a successful metal turner. By 1837, Mêne was casting bronze sculptures in his own foundry. His masterful and well-observed sculptures of horses, cows, sheep, and goats were extremely fashionable among the Paris elite during the Second Empire in France. So successful was Mêne that his works were frequently forged, leading to a devaluing of the sculptor’s market during his lifetime.
Fortunately for collectors, a Mêne original will feature in a September 13 auction via Morphy Auctions. The piece, titled “Jockey Riding Horse,” is a rare example showcasing the sculptor’s figurative prowess as well. A fit and streamlined thoroughbred stands sturdy and majestic as the rider, who is dwarfed by the horse, twists to gaze over his right shoulder. The jockey holds his hand over his brow and stares intently, helping the viewer picture the sculpture’s setting and narrative. Although the figure’s costume and individuality are superb, he is easily outshined by the horse’s beautifully modeled anatomy. The example here clearly displays Mêne’s gift for capturing the grandeur and magnificence of animals.
“Jockey Riding Horse” has an auction estimate of $3,000 and will feature September 13 at Morphy Auctions in Denver, Pennsylvania.
To view the full catalogue, visit Morphy Auctions.

This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.

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Andrew Webster is the former Editor of Fine Art Today and worked as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.


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