A Mid-19thC French Terracotta Comical Animalier Group of Two Monkeys c.1860-70

Origin: French
Period: 2nd Empire
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1860-70
Height: 5.25”
Width: 6”
Depth: 3.75”

The interesting and amusing mid-19thC French terracotta comical animalier group of two monkeys, one seated on a chaise in a pharaoh’s type headdress holding the severed tail of the other figure much to his dismay, on a rounded rectangular base, being incise marked ‘Pppignouff !!’ (pignouff being the popular expression for a boorish or rude person), and signed indistinctly to the right side 'J.D.Molds’ (?), the whole surviving from 2nd Empire France.

The piece has a hairline crack to the base running up to the top as photographed, though this aside it does not have any losses or restoration.

The Animaliers, a group of sculptors from the 19th century, focused on capturing the animal objectively. Leaders of this school include Antoine-Louis Barye, Pierre Jules Mene and the Bonheurs. The movement predominantly centered around Paris, France, and Italy, with some offshoots in England, Germany, and North America. The Paris salon thought animal subjects too common for fine art, but with the opening of the new Paris Jardin des Plantes zoo and the Ménagerie du Jardin des plantes, interest in animal art increased. Most of the original animalier sculptors used the traditional lost wax process of casting prevalent at the time.

Rarely do you see humour used in this type of sculpture; a unique and highly amusing piece that is most certainly worth further research.