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    PIERRE-AUGUSTE RENOIR (French, 1841-1919) and RICHARD GUINO (French, 1890-1973)
    Médaillon de Paul Cézanne Piece Mold & Original Plaster of Relief, 1915-17
    Original plaster
    27 inches (68.6 cm) (relief diameter)
    31 inches (78.7 cm) (diameter with borders)
    Published by Vollard, Paris


    Inspired by a pastel of Cézanne by Renoir, a bronze reproduction of this work was placed as a memorial on a wall above a fountain in Aix-en-Provence, where Cézanne worked and lived. No one held more esteem for Cézanne, painter of cubes and angles than Renoir, painter of curls and curves.

    In 1915 Renoir asked Guino to execute six bronze portrait medallions of French artists past and present who had especially influenced his painting aesthetic: Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, Eugène Delacroix, Camille Corot, Claude Monet, Paul Cézanne, and Auguste Rodin. Borrowing from classical prototypes, each medallion features the artist's face and name within a garlanded frame. For the physiognomies of the contemporary artists, Guino utilized Renoir's own drawings: a now lost drawing of Monet in old age, an 1881 pastel of Cézanne made for the art collector Victor Chocquet, and a 1914 drawing of Rodin commissioned by Galerie Bernheim-Jeune. Guino based the images of Ingres and Corot on photographs and the image of Delacroix on a self-portrait. A seventh medallion, of the composer Richard Wagner, was never completed.

    Because of the large scale and intricate details of the bronze medallions, Guino and the foundry utilized the ancient piece-mold casting process, a modification of the lost-wax technique, which had been revived during the Renaissance. Lost-wax, or direct, casting involved the "loss" of the original wax model during heating, as bronze, infused into the mold, replaced this original model; piece-mold, or indirect, casting melted out not the original wax model, but rather a wax cast, or intermodel, formed from a piece mold taken from the original model. Although more complicated, the piece-mold technique, by not destroying the original model or the piece mold, allowed for the production of multiple copies of a given sculpture, a significant innovation.

    The steps for creating the medallions through the piece-mold process were painstaking and required great skill: first, Guino, directed by Renoir, made an original clay model, which he then coated with small sections of plaster, precisely fitted next to one another like a giant jigsaw puzzle. These plaster pieces were then carefully pulled off of the model, which could be set aside for future use, and reassembled piece by piece to form the mold. In order to create a plaster cast, as in the present examples, the piece mold was first dampened (to prevent sticking) and filled with plaster, which, after hardening, was removed from the mold as a replica of the original. In order to create a bronze cast, the piece mold was dampened and filled with wax to form a replica of the original (intermodel). After extracting from the mold this wax intermodel, the founder added to it wax rods, called sprues, which served as channels for the molten bronze to flow. The now tree-like intermodel was covered with a thin layer of clay and a thicker clay outer shell (the final casting mold), held together with bronze pins. Inverted and heated in a kiln, the encased wax intermodel melted out, leaving a space for the liquid bronze, poured via the sprues. Once the bronze had cooled, the foundry team hammered open the clay shell and removed the sculpture. Finishing involved sawing off the sprues, in-filling any imperfections, and burnishing.

    This current lot is an exceptional plaster cast of the Cézanne medallion, additionally noteworthy in that it is accompanied by its completely intact piece mold.

    Indeed, Renoir had long admired Cézanne, whom he befriended during the early days of Impressionism and later visited in 1882 in Aix-en-Provence, particularly favoring Cézanne's emphasis on the three-dimensionality, or solidity, of painted forms. Describing Renoir's portrait medallion of Cézanne in Renoir Sculptor, Paul Haesaerts writes, "Paul Cézanne shows a bare scalp. He has tufts of hair behind the ears, and a short goatee. No one had more esteem for Cézanne, the painter of cubes and angles, than Renoir, the painter of curls and curves."1 According to Haesaerts, a bronze copy of one of Renoir's Cézanne medallions hung on a wall above a fountain in Aix-en-Provence as a memorial tribute to the great Post-Impressionist.2

    1P. Haesaerts, Renoir Sculptor, New York, 1947, p. 28.
    2Ibid., p. 41.

    P. Haesaerts, Renoir Sculptor, New York, 1947, p. 28, no. 16, illustration of another cast pl. XXVI.

    This original foundry plaster is copyright protected. The pair contains one of two surviving original piece molds.

    More information about PIERRE-AUGUSTE RENOIR, also known as Renoir, Pierre-Auguste, Pierre Auguste Renoir, Renoir, Auguste, Renoir, Pierre August, Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

    Condition Report*: Condition report available upon request.
    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. Heritage does not guarantee the condition of frames and shall not be liable for any damage/scratches to frames, glass/acrylic coverings, original boxes, display accessories, or art that has slipped in frames. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    September, 2013
    19th Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 5
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 3,137

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