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Louis Vidal
French, 1831–1892
Lion, 1871
Cast bronze
H. 13 3/4 in. x W. 7 in. x L. 27 1/2 in.
Metz 652

Born in Nimes, France on December 6, 1831, Louis Vidal-Natavel pursued a successful career in sculpture in Paris despite a childhood eye disease that eventually took his sight; he signed many of his works Vidal aveugle (Vidal the Blind). A student of the sculptor Antoine Louis Barye, Vidal exhibited his work at the Paris Exposition of 1855 and then at the Paris Salon from 1859 until 1882. Although he was completely blind, Vidal was a remarkable sculptor. His production was limited, and only a few of his plaster models were cast in bronze editions. In 1888 Vidal became the professor of modeling at the Ècole Braille in Paris.

The Lion in the Metz collection, dated 1871, is a bronze cast of Vidal’s plaster lion first exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1868. A story exists that Vidal’s mentor, Barye, introduced him to a lion at the Jardin des Plantes zoo in Paris, and Vidal was allowed to run his hands over the cat in order to visualize his subject.

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