Lion Crushing a Serpent (Tuileries)
Born the son of a jeweler in 1796, Barye attended the Ecole de Beaux arts where he tried unsuccessfully for the Prix de Rome and the chance to study in Italy. Though he continued to compete, he won little and didnt gain entrance to the Paris Salon until he was in his thirties. After an initial success in 1831, he did well again in the Salon of 1833 with Lion Crushing a Serpent and received his first commission for a public statue. Barye loved to place his animals in combat, not only to show off the musculature of their form, but also because he felt it was the best expression of the animals character. For a posthumous exhibit honoring Baryes life, critic Charles Blanc wrote:
He was a patient anatomist, a romantic with classical knowledge. He had studied in depth proportions of men and animals, the anatomy based on knowledge of the skeleton, the measurement of bones, the dissection of animals. He modeled each part separately . . . Baryes animals were as beautiful by the grandeur of their silhouette as by the details rendered with such energy.