After the purchase of the 36 clay busts in 1925 (respectively in 1927), Maurice Le Garrec also produced as of 1929 bronze busts in an edition of 25 or 30 each. They were marked “M.L.G.” (for Maurice Le Garrec) on the rear lower left or on the shoulder (stamped on wax positive) and cold stamped in an inscribed circle “1/30” to “30/30” (or respectively “1/25” to “25/25”) on the interior lower left rear. Additionally, one would find a cold stamp showing the word: “BRONZE”. It should be noted that the location of the incised numbers/marks might have differed in some of the bronze casts. Only the wax positive cachets are found always at the same location of a bronze (with the exception of DR9614 mentioned below). The 36 busts, which were cast by the Barbedienne foundry between 1929 and 1952, were sold on a subscription basis as numbered and stamped editions. According to Wasserman’s calculation (p. 14), a total of 1058 bronze casts were produced of the 36 busts, applying the lost wax process. As we know from Gobin, it was Fix-Masseau who had produced the plaster retainer moulds, which were used by the Barbedienne foundry to create this large number of bronze busts. The “founder’s job would have been to assemble a retainer mould over a plaster model and pour a new gelatine negative” (Wasserman, p. 16).
For a yet unknown reason, some of the bronze sculptures had been numbered twice at different places. Occasionally, an additional “production number”, which had nothing to do with the above edition number, was added. The Barbedienne bronzes differed in their colour of patina between dark brown, dark green and black. It should be noted that NONE of the 36 bronze busts made by Barbedienne or later by Valsuani carries Daumier’s signature or monogram, while surmoulages (copies) quite often show either the full name of Daumier or the monogram “h.D” (in wax positive).
<a href="glossar.php?id=107">Click here</a> to see an example where in the case of a bust the editor’s stamp (M.L.G in wax positive) and the word “BRONZE” (cold stamped) are placed. Further details about the numbering can be found <a href="glossar.php?id=108"> in this photo</a>. The Barbedienne edition shows in a circle two numbers usually inside the cast. The numbers are separated by a slash, for example 7/25, and were added by hand with a sharp tool into the cold bronze surface. Note that the numbers (cold stamped) are occasionally not only on the inside of the bust but also on the back of the base. Sometimes additional multi-digit numbers or letters have been added at varying places like on the rim or on the rear base. Occasionally, collectors incised their own collector’s mark. As mentioned above, in many cases the cold stamped “BRONZE” mark may be missing below the M.L.G mark. According to French law dating back to March 8, 1935 the foundries were obliged to add to each sculpture the word “BRONZE”. Unfortunately apart from Susse, and occasionally Barbedienne very few foundries followed this new legislation.
One can sporadically observe inconsistencies concerning the foundry stamps as well as the word “BRONZE”. In the case of the bust “Gallois” (DR 9614) we detected that the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. describes their own sculpture numbered 3/25 as follows: “Stamped in the wax positive on lower right shoulder, in incised circle: M.L.G [Maurice Le Garrec]; cold-stamped on bottom rim at right: 2199-1; cold-stamped inside, in incised circle: 3/25”. The usual incision “BRONZE” is missing (as happened frequently in other cases). The same “Gallois” bust in a German private collection numbered 10/25, however, shows the wax positive “M.L.G” stamp not on the lower right shoulder (as described by the NGA), but at the rear lower rim of the sculpture (<a href="glossar.php?id=109">see photo</a>). It remains unclear how it was possible to have the original wax positive stamp located at two different places on the bust.
The first 12 busts were offered on a subscription basis between 1929 and 1930. These were: Barthe, Delessert, Dupin, Fruchard, Fulchiron, Ganneron, Kératry, Podenas, Prunelle, Royer-Collard, Viennet and Philipon. Most of the remaining bronzes were produced by Barbedienne until 1948; the last bronze was delivered in 1952, shortly before the foundry closed its doors in 1953.
THE BARBEDIENNE FOUNDRY (initially specialized in sand cast process; in case of the busts, however, lost wax process)
Ferdinand Barbedienne was born in 1810 in Saint-Martin-du-Fresnay in the Calvados region of France. He moved to Paris in 1833 where he established a paper shop in rue Notre-Dame-de-Lorette. Together with his partner, Achille Collas, who had invented a machine to copy bronze statuettes in 1839, they experienced a notable success with the reduced bronze copy of a “Venus de Milo”. From 1848 on, Barbedienne became one of the most important foundries in town, exhibiting their sculptures in Paris and London. Around the late 1860s, F. Barbedienne was regularly named president of the French bronze sculpture foundries association. In 1875, he purchased 125 Barye plasters including their reproduction rights and expanded his business to the UK, the USA, Germany and Belgium (about 1918). In 1895, Barbedienne cast the first group of Rodin’s “Bourgeois de Calais”. Between 1929 and 1952, he held the exclusive rights to cast Daumier’s busts in an edition of 25 respectively 30 pieces, whereby the foundry used the lost wax process.