Paris: At one of the entrances to the Tuileries Gardens off Rue de Rivoli, you’ll find two large bronze statues on either side of the shallow steps going down. We’ve walked past them countless times, but this visit we stopped to look closely and were quite surprised at the rather gruesome subject matter so realistically done. They are both by Auguste Nicolas Cain (b. Paris 1822, d. Paris 1894).
One is “Rhinocéros Attaqué par un Tigre” (Rhinoceros Attacked by a Tiger), bronze 1882-1884, placed in the Tuileries Gardens 1884. I suppose in the 1880s rhinos were more plentiful and the threat of extinction had not even been voiced. But, this piece seemed somehow prophetic to us, given the tenuous state of rhinos today. I stood by the sculpture, rooting for the rhino!
Cain was a well-known French sculptor in the Animaliers School, noted for portraying domesticated and wild animals. He especially liked carnivores “doing their thing”, and combat between animals. These tended to be very large sculptures.
But, he also sculpted a range of domestic and farmyard animals, often with a humorous touch, which were usually smaller.
Other bronzes by Cain in the Tuileries to look out for are “Tigre Terrassant un Crocodil” (Tiger bringing down a Crocodile), 1873; and “Tigresse Apportant un Paon à ses Petits” (Tigress Bringing a Peacock to her young), 1873.
One of his most famous pieces is supposedly “Le Lion de Nubie et sa Proie” (Nubian Lion and his Prey) in the Luxembourg Gardens—I’ll make a point of seeking that out next visit to Paris.
To see an article about rhino poaching and a plea to save the rhinos today, go here: http://viviennemackie.wordpress.com/2014/02/13/rescuing-the-rhinos/