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Tigress and Cubs
This striking bronze sculpture is one of the oldest in Central Park. Sculpted by Auguste Nicolas Cain (1822–1894), it depicts a tigress and her young who are in the process of devouring a peacock.
Cain was born in Paris, France on November 4, 1822. His first professional experience was as a wood worker, but he then was influenced by his father-in-law, sculptor Pierre Jules Mene (1810-1871), and subsequently studied sculpture with contemporary artists such as Francois Rude (1784-1855), best known for his work on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Cain became associated with the animaliers, a group of artists dedicated to depicting animal themes. Originating in France, this genre combined naturalistic detail and romanticism; some of its major adherents were Christophe Fratin (who sculpted the Eagles and Prey, also in Central Park) and Antoine-Louis Barye (1796–1875), one of Cain’s teachers.
Cain exhibited animal figures at the Parisian Art Salon of 1846, including a wax group of a linnet songbird defending her nest against a rat. Soon recognized for his ability, Cain was awarded third class medals in 1851 and 1863, and also received a prize for his work at the Exposition Universelle of 1867. During this period, Cain was prolific and received numerous important commissions. After 1868 he spent much of his time on monumental statuary, including a massive equestrian statue of Duke Charles of Brunswick for the City of Geneva (1879).
Cast at the F. Bardienne Foundry in Paris, Tigress and Cubs was presented in 1867 to the Board of Commissioners of Central Park by twelve New York citizens, including artist and inventor Samuel F. B. Morse (1791–1872). The piece was placed in a wooded area on a rock outcropping near the lake. In 1934, it was relocated to the Central Park Zoo, and after the 1988 renovation of the zoo, it took its current position in a protected setting between the Intelligence Garden and the Tropical Zone. In 1996, the Central Park Conservancy’s Sculpture Conservation Program conserved the statue. Though real tigers no longer roam the Central Park Wildlife Conservation Center, Cain’s masterful bronze continues to delight zoo patrons.
Tigress and Cubs Details
- Location: Central Park Zoo; intelligence garden (see memo)
- Sculptor: Auguste Cain (1822-1894)
- Description: Animal group
- Materials: Bronze, Deer isle granite
- Dimensions: 6'3"h x 3'w x 8'6"
- Dedicated: October or November, 1867
- Foundry: F. Barbedienne, Fondeur, Paris
- Donor: Citizens (?)
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