A Horse Fair at Le Folguet, Brittany

A Horse Fair at Le Folguet, Brittany. R. Caldecott. Bronze relief signed with R C monogram, mid-right, 6 x 15 inches. (16.2 x 36.7 cm), Private Collection.

Although best known as an illustrator, Caldecott also painted in oils and watercolours and sculpted. In August 1873 Caldecott had met the expatriate French sculptor Jules Dalou, then in exile in London, who taught Caldecott modelling in clay in his studio in exchange for English lessons. "A Horse Fair at Le Folguet, Brittany, is Caldecott’s best-known and most commercially successful bas-relief. This work, although modern in conception, was inspired by the Elgin Marbles and was the work with which Caldecott attempted to move away from illustration. Caldecott lived in London for seven years, spending most of his time in lodgings at 46 Great Russell Street in Bloomsbury, just opposite the British Museum. Like many of the artists he was close friends with at this time, Caldecott would not only have admired but also closely studied from the Elgin marbles in the collection of the British Museum.

Caldecott’s sculptures were primarily relief plaques that he produced in limited editions. He would frequently sell each of the successive stages required in producing the bronze, from the terra cotta or plaster to the wax. In some instances the plaster would be coloured to imitate bronze. Caldecott’s total sculptural oeuvre amounted to at least seventeen works. A bronze version of A Horse Fair at Le Folquet, Brittany was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1876 [no. 1499], where it attracted favourable attention. The critic of The Saturday Review wrote: “Of low relief – taking the Elgin frieze as the standard – one of the purest examples we have seen for many a day is Mr. Caldecott’s ‘ medal bas-relief,’ a ‘Horse Fair in Brittany’ [1499]. Here a simple and almost rude incident in nature has been brought within the law and symmetry of art, so true is it that art exists everywhere, if only the artist be present to bring it forth from its lurking-place” (746).

The terracotta model, upon which the bronze sculptures of A Horse Fair at Le Folquet, Brittany are based, is dated c.1874-76 and is in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London [museum number: A.95-1927]. A bronze cast of the relief is in the collection of the Manchester Art Gallery [accesion no. 1977.52].

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“The Royal Academy.” The Saturday Review. 41 (June 10, 1876): 746-77..

Last modified 2 May 2021