Crouching Jaguar – Rembrandt Bugatti
On October 16, 1884, prominent furniture builder in Milan, Carlo Bugatti, had his third child, his second boy, three years behind his brother of automotive design fame, Ettore Bugatti. At age 16, Rembrandt had his first piece in an exhibition, a plaster sculpture, and the following year he had one plaster and two bronzes shown in Italy. His first showing at the Paris Salon was in 1904. His father’s friends and even some close family, such as his uncle Giovanni Segantini, were prominent artisans, giving him a wide selection of mentors to pull from.
Rembrandt loved animals and devoted his time and effort to sculpting them. He spent a lot of time in Antwerp, and at the Antwerp Zoo. He had such a good rapport with the staff that he was able to go in after hours to work, as well as have special access to some animals cages. In addition, a special arrangement was made to have two Senegalese antelopes delivered to his studio in Paris so he could sculpt them, which he used to create his work called “My Antelopes.” He was the caretaker of these animals for three months.
His works were cast at the Hébrard foundry and used the lost-wax method. He enlisted with the Belgian Redcross for The Great War and found himself surrounded by the realness of war. Due to the war, and the zoo being used for the war effort, many of the animals were euthanized. On January 8, 1916, Rembrandt Bugatti committed suicide by turning on the gas, while holding a note and a bouquet of flowers.
This crouching jaguar, a smaller version of the original model that was a foot high, represents an animal known to zoo keepers for its ferocity. Rembrandt Bugatti’s presence alone was able to calm the captive animal. Many of his sculptures features different types of cats.