Galerie des Modernes

En | Fr

Antoine Bourdelle


  • Héraklès Archer, Deuxième étude called "Etude sans arc"

Antoine Bourdelle

(Montauban, 1861 - Le Vésinet, 1929)

Héraklès Archer, Deuxième étude called "Etude sans arc", model date 1906-1909; date of the cast 1967

Authentic bronze with deep green nuanced patina 
which is part of the posthumous original cast 
Unnumbered sculpture cast in 1967, prior to the obligation of 1st of January 1968 to make the numbering mandatory 
Lost wax casting with the stamp on the back left A. VALSUANI CIRE PERDUE Artist's monogram on the rock at the back 
Inscribed on the back © by Bourdelle 
Height: 39 cm Length: 58 cm Depth: 22 cm


Model created between 1906 and 1909, no bronze were cast during the lifetime of the artist. Proof part of the original entirely posthumous copies limited to 10. 7 authentic bronzes cast to date.

Our bronze is part of the first 3 bronzes cast, which were executed by Valsuani, at the request of the Bourdelle Museum and Mrs. Rhodia Dufet-Bourdelle (1911-2002) from 1967 and up to 1981, closing date of the Valsuani Foundry.

The archives of the Musée Bourdelle doesn’t make it possible to identify with precision the cast date of our bronze among the first 3 proofs executed by Valsuani; however the absence of numbering on our proof makes it possible to affirm that the cast is prior to the 1st of January 1968, date at which the numbering becomes mandatory (pursuant to Article 71-3, Appendix III of the General Tax Code and of the publication of application n° 67-454 of June 10th, 1967 relating to the law 6610 of January 6th, 1966).

The following 4 copies were cast later by Clémenti Foundry.

The Museum Bourdelle , Paris, owns in its collection a proof of the same model, cast by Clémenti in 1982 (MB BR 1238).

Bourdelle Héraklès Archer Naissance d’une œuvre, Musée Bourdelle, Paris, October 1992, another proof of the same model presented nr 3

- Emile-Antoine Bourdelle by Ionel Jianou and Michel Dufet, 3rd edition with the catalogue of sculptures completed and numbered, Collection The Great Sculptors, Arted Editions of Art, Paris, 1984, Héraclès Archer Study without arc listed on p. 104 under the number 392 (2 proofs)
- Bourdelle Héraklès Archer Naissance d’une œuvre by Antoinette Le Normand-Romain, catalogue of the exhibition of the Musée Bourdelle , Editions Paris-Museums, 1992, another proof described at p. 72 at Nr. 3 and reproduced at p. 25, Fig. 15.


Verso of our sculpture HERAKLES ARCHER, DEUXIEME ETUDE called SANS ARC, 1906-1909 - 1967

Emile-Antoine BOURDELLE
Original proof in bronze number 5 executed by Clémenti in 1982
Collection Musée Bourdelle, Paris (MB BR 1238)

Emile-Antoine BOURDELLE
Model in clay
Collection Musée Bourdelle, Paris (MB PH 120)


Herakles Archer is the most famous sculpture of Bourdelle.
The idea of this sculpture was born from the meeting of Bourdelle and a cavalry officer, Commander Doyen-Parigot (1864-1916) during "Rodin’s Saturdays". Doyen-Parigot agreed to pose nude about 1909, to realize Hercules - "Héraklès" - doing the 6th of his 12 tasks: "The hunt of carnivorous birds at Stymphale Lake".

Eliminating all superfluous details (the bow, the arrows, the quiver), Bourdelle manages to give this accomplished soldier and sportsman a spectacular image of the mythological hero bow bent on his rock. It portrays great power: the position of the body and the tension of the muscles required by the archery emphasize the musculature of the model accomplishing two contrary efforts, that of the arm tending a bow and that of the foot being supported on the rock. In order to accentuate the half-man-half-god side of the subject, Bourdelle treats hands and feet like genuine "lion's paws".

Bourdelle will model several different studies of his archer: the bow, the rock and especially the face of the hero that evolves over time. The model had asked not to be recognized, and little by little, the artist will come to stylize more and more the head of Hercules.
Our proof, which is one of the earliest studies, retains the features of the Commander, very recognizable by his prominent eyebrows, his mustache, and his square chin.
As early as 1909, a wealthy industrialist, Gabriel Thomas, asked Bourdelle for a unique bronze version of more than two meters high. But the Hérklès Archer met with such success at the Salon of the National Society of 1910 that Bourdelle broke his agreement with Gabriel Thomas and published several copies.


Charles Morice, in the Mercure de France, will speak of a "prodigious attempt at living art".

Completed or intermediate copies are shown in prestigious museums in France, such as the Musée Bourdelle in Paris, the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Lyon, the Musée d'Art Moderne André Malraux in Le Havre and in the world (non-exhaustive list) :
• In Europe: Stockholm at the Waldemarsudde museum (original bronze of 1909); Rome at the National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art (1909); Brussels at the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium (1909); Antwerp, at the Museum of Open Air Sculpture Middelheim (1909); Prague at the Veletroní Palace of the National Gallery of Prague (1923).
• In Africa: Algiers, at the Museum of Fine Arts (1923).
• In America: New York at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (1909); Los Angeles, at the County Art Museum (1909).
• In Asia: Tokyo National Museum of Western Art exhibits Héraclès archer (1909) outdoors; Hakone at the Open Air Museum

Emile-Antoine BOURDELLE
Photo - Musée Bourdelle, Paris (MB PV 1889)

Emile-Antoine BOURDELLE
Photo - Bourdelle Musée, Paris  (MB PV 1891)

read more