Russian Bronze Group of Hunting with a Golden Eagle
Cast after the model by Evgeny Lanceray, 1876
On a naturalistic oval base, in traditional winter dress on horseback, poised to release his eagle. Height 21 1/2 inches (54.6 cm).
Sotheby's, Chicago, March 19, 2001, lot 421.
G.W. Sudbury, E.A. Lanceray: La Sculpture Russe du Cheval, Paris, 2006, pp. 125-126, this model illustrated p. 75.
L. A. Dementieva, Album of Models by the Sculptor Eugene Lanceray, Moscow, 2011, No. 46. pp. 107-109, a comparable model illustrated.
Hunting with a golden eagle is a traditional type of Kirghiz and Kazakh hunting in which young eagles are selected and carefully trained by respected hunters, called mergen or batyr' [bogatyr']. The eagle perches on the right shoulder of the hunter, while his left fist holds a whip and supports his right arm, due to the considerable weight of the eagle (over 14 lbs. or 6.5 kg). The well-trained eagle can capture foxes miles away.
It is evident from the composition that Lanceray had carefully observed this type of hunting. The action and drama is enhanced by the sculptor's choice of the moment of the bird's takeoff and the story told by the full pelt attached to the hunter's saddle. As illustrated in The National Geographic (September, 1999) and captured on film, the practice continues to the present day in the Russia-Mongolian borderlands.
Hunting with a Golden Eagle, also known as The Kirghiz Falconer, dates from 1876, when the work was exhibited in Russia's first Society of Art Exhibitions, and not long after it was exhibited internationally at the Paris Exposition Universelle of 1878. Large scale versions of the work were placed in Les Jardins Bioves in Menton, France, and in Baku, Azerbaijan. Another cast from the collection of Alexei Bakhrushin (1853-1904), a prominent Moscow merchant and noted art patron and collector, is held in the State Historical Museum in Moscow. Given its prominence in exhibitions and in Russian catalogues, among them the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, Hunting with a Golden Eagle has proved to be one of Lanceray's most enduring and widely respected works.
Evgeny Lanceray inspired the American artist Frederic Remington (1861-1909), the great illustrator of America's West, to focus on sculpture. Remington's interest was probably informed by his seeing the Russian's pieces in New York after the arrival of Lanceray's A Pleasure Ride in a Winter Troika and certainly after Remington's visit to St. Petersburg in 1892, where he purchased at least one equestrian work for his private collection (now owned by the Frederic Remington Art Museum in Ogdensburg, NY). The White House, where Remington's sculptures have long been prominent holdings, currently has his Buffalo and Wolves, also dated 1876. Like its Russian analogue, that hunt was originally drawn from nature and occurs currently in the wild. The work can now be seen frequently during Presidential press conferences in the Roosevelt Room, adjacent to the Oval Office.
Comparable models of Hunting with a Golden Eagle were sold Sotheby's, New York, April 22, 2009, lot 408; and Sotheby's, New York, April 12, 2011, lot 108.
C An Important Collection of Imperial Russian Bronzes from a Maryland Private Collection
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