Rembrandt Bugatti, an animal sculptor, was one of the most outstanding sculptors of the early 20th century. The son of Carlo Bugatti, decorator and furniture maker, and brother of Ettore Bugatti, the car manufacturer of the eponymous brand, Rembrandt Bugatti grew up in a highly creative environment. His promising first name came from his uncle and godfather Giovanni Segantini, himself a painter attached to the Symbolist movement. From an early age, Bugatti was introduced to sculpture, quickly encouraged by his godfather and family friends, such as the sculptor Paul Troubetzkoy.
In 1903, at the age of 19, he moved to Paris, the center of modern art. There he rubbed shoulders with Modigliani, Apollinaire and Derain and signed an exclusive contract with Adrien-Aurélien Hébrard, an art publisher and founder, whose gallery was then located on rue Royale in Paris. Hébrard exhibited Bugatti on numerous occasions in his Parisian gallery, and organized retrospectives allowing the sculptor to be presented in the official Salons of Paris, Venice, Milan, Antwerp, Brussels, Berlin and New York.
Rembrandt Bugatti took animals as his muses. For fifteen years, he observed them in the zoological park of the Jardin des Plantes or at the Antwerp Zoo in Belgium, where he was invited to reside by the Royal Society of Zoology. An avid cat lover with a predilection for wild animals, Bugatti modeled all kinds of animals, giving birth to species never before represented by artists.
By showing the fur, feathers, and hair, he allows us to tame each of the animals he represents in an almost sensory way. From the very beginning, Bugatti has favored free modelling, without preparatory drawings or sketches: the spontaneity of his gesture gives life to strikingly realistic sculptures. His talent is particularly well known. The sculptor’s fame was revived in the 1970s, and he is still highly regarded on the art market today.