The eye of the collector by Jean-luc Ferrand

BARBEDIENNE Ferdinand (1810-1892)

Friday 18 December 2015, by Barbara Cogollos

All the versions of this article: [English] [français]

The son of a humble farmer Norman, he made a first fortune in wallpaper before creating his foundry in 1839 that corresponds with the invention of the mechanical reduction by Achille Collas that Barbedienne associates with.

The industry of bronze art knows from 1840 to 1865 an amazing development. The number of founders editors strongly increased.

The invention of mechanical reduction processes by Achille COLLAS (1795-1859) and Frederic WILD, inventor of the propeller (1786-1857) were determinants, based on the use of the pantograph. Achilles COLLAS associates therefore with Ferdinand BARBEDIENNE, paper merchant painted at that time. Both self-taught, they opened a foundry in 1838, the first reduction will be the Venus De Milo.

The scope of the process is significant because it can reduce at a scale compatible with the bourgeois interiors of the time. The customer can make his choice according to his budget or the size of its interior.

The house "Collas and Barbedienne" make reproduce in bronze and reducing many sculpted works preserved in major European museums. They specialize in the reproduction of bronzes from the antique.

The house won numerous medals at the International Exhibition in London in 1851 and that of Paris in 1855. It shows reductions from the antique, the Renaissance and the eighteenth century.

BARBEDIENNE quickly interested in contemporary sculptors as BOSIO, David d’ANGERS, CLESINGER and FREMIET, MENE ... with whom he signed exclusive contracts according to a new formula. Barbedienne paid artists a commission ranging from 20% and up to 50% when considering that lost wax requiring intervention of artist. True mediator between the artist and the public, he took a significant financial risk for the financing of the first prints. Thus Barbedienne showed a great commercial intuition with a keen artistic eye. It always issues a contract for an unlimited number of tests but generally over a period of five to eight years, that up to twenty years (Rodin) or even throughout the artist’s life (Rude, Clésinger).

On the death of the founder, 21 March 1892 Barbedienne house employed 600 workers and had an international reputation. Apart from the activity of founder, we found rue de Lancry a design firm to study the composition of models, a sculpture workshop for execution in plaster, wood, marble etc ... a reduction workshop , the mount of workshops and carving, marble workshops, woodworking and cloisonné enamels. In effect, as other competitors, he proposed in addition to the bronzes, various furniture’s objects.

Gustave LEBLANC, Ferdinand BARBEDIENNE nephew took over the company with the wish that it keeps "as much as possible the name F.Barbedienne". Gustave LEBLANC associates his son to the company in 1911. They created a new company "Leblanc-Barbedienne and Son" in 1921 installed Canrobert city in Paris and intended to produce lost waxes. As for iron sand, they continue to be marked, "F.BARBEDIENNE" or "F. BARBEDIENNE FONDEUR" .In the early twentieth century, the company flourishing open branches in Britain, the USA, Germany and Belgium.

Barbedienne house closes its doors in 1954 after more than a hundred years of business, a victim of general disinterest of the time for the art bronze.

Also discover