Bronze sculpture model of "A La Terre!" (1890) after Alfred Boucher
Signed to naturalistic base "A. Boucher", inscribed "F. Barbedienne Fondeur"
Item # 008AMH08W
This powerful model of A la terre! was conceived by Alfred Boucher in 1890 and is sometimes alternately titled La Terrassier - it also has been seen with the title L'Effort in some catalogues. It was cast exclusively by the foundry of Ferdinand Barbedienne in three known dimensions: 41, 56 and 67 cms. The present model is the largest version of the casting at 67 cms or more exactly 26 3/8" H and is finished in an overall brown chemical patination with hints of verdigris and charcoal highlights throughout. Boucher's most famous model is his complex model of three figures fighting for the finish line titled Au But!, while this sculpture is his second most successful study. The same model is held in the permanent collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art in the same dimension. The work is emblematic of the best of Boucher's vision: an ability to capture expression, intensity and movement with natural ease. It is a celebration of nature, work and achievement through toil.
Born in Nogent-sur-Seine in 1850, Alfred Boucher studied in Paris at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts starting in 1869 under fellow Nogent native sculptor Paul Dubois, as well as studying with Augustin Dumont and Joseph Ramus. In 1874 he mounted his first exhibition the Paris Salon where he was awarded a bronze medal. He spent some time traveling in Florence and Rome despite not winning the Grand Prix de Rome and it was from there that he sent his statue of Eve for exhibition in 1878. The same year he returned to France to set up his studio in Paris and in 1881 he was awarded the Prix du Salon. He was made a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor in 1887 and was ultimately awarded the Grand Prix at the Exposition Universelle in 1900. He experimented with casting sculpture in cement later in his career, his more notable achievement in this medium being the monument to the fallen in 1921. In 1925 he was promoted to Grand-Officier of the Légion d'Honneur and he died in Paris nine years later in 1934.
His works were cast by several foundries, including Susse Freres, Barbedienne, Hébrard and Siot-Decauville. He also licensed a number of his sculptures to the Sévres factory for production in porcelain bisque as well as Müller for production in sand-stone.
Artist Listings & Further Reading:
Philadelphia Museum of Art, present model in permanent collection, acc. no. 2019-149-2, titled "Á la terre" with dimensions of 26 3/4 × 13 1/2 × 23 1/2
Alfred Boucher 1850-1934 "sculpteur – humaniste", Jacques Piette, 2000, no. 91, p. 93
Bronzes of the Nineteenth Century: Dictionary of Sculptors, Pierre Kjellberg, 1994, p. 118-20; present model depicted p. 120 in 60 cm
E. Benezit Dictionary of Artists, Gründ, 2006
Art Bronzes, Michael Forrest, 1988, p. 471 [biographical]
The Dictionary of Western Sculptors in Bronze, James Mackay, 1977, p. 48
Measurements: 26 3/8" H x 13" D x 21" W
Original surface patina overall chemical brown with verdigris accents and oxidizations sealed under wax. Two scratches to back of figure's thigh. Patina loss to his left ankle and around where the shovel meets the soil. Speckling to the figure's back. Screws beneath base rusty. Cleaned, waxed and polished, a fine presentation.
“A la terre!” (1890) French Antique Bronze Sculpture by Alfred Boucher & Barbedienne