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Public Statues and Sculpture Association

Antoine-Aubin Durenne (1822–1895)

French iron and bronze founder, born in Paris. He attended, in Angers, the École des Arts et Métiers, 1837–41, and then in Paris, the École centrale des arts et manufactures, 1841–43, and, from 1843, the École des Beaux-Arts. In 1855, he bought the Sommevoire foundry, Haute-Marne, north-eastern France. In addition to its steady production of decorative metalwork, the high quality of the foundry’s casts attracted many of the leading French fine-art sculptors of the day, including Auguste Bartholdi, Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse, Eugène Delaplanche, Emmanuel Frémiet and Mathurin Moreau. Durenne exhibited his products for the first time at the International Exhibition of 1862 at South Kensington. His principal contribution was a great fountain, displayed on the Royal Horticultural Gardens lawn adjacent to the exhibition building, with cast-iron figures designed and modelled by Jean-Baptiste-Jules Klagmann. It remained on site until early 1863, at which point it was dismantled and a pared-down version sold (its outlying groups having been removed for reasons of cost) to a private purchaser, the Scottish businessman Daniel Ross, who subsequently presented it to the city of Edinburgh. Thereafter known as the Ross Fountain, it was eventually erected in Princes Street Gardens West in 1872. In recognition of his achievement at the 1862 exhibition Durenne was appointed chevalier of the Légion d’honneur. His foundry was the recipient of awards at successive universal exhibitions, most notably Paris 1867 (medaille d’or), Rome 1870 (grand prix), Vienna 1873 (diplôme d’honneur) and Paris 1878 (grand prix); in Paris 1889, he was, as a member of the jury, hors concours. His contribution to Vienna had been another grand fountain, also with figures by Klagmann, this one being purchased by the Austrian city of Graz and erected in the city’s Stadtpark, where it was named the Emperor Franz Josef Fountain. Durenne was subsequently elevated to officier of the Légion d’honneur. At the time of writing the only other Durenne casts known to the writer to be publicly sited in the United Kingdom are the pair of lions, in Market Square, Aylesbury, Bucks, formerly at Waddesdon Manor, copies of the travertine stone lions at the foot of Antonio Canova’s Monument to Pope Clement XIII, 1792, in St Peter’s, Rome.

Bibliography: Bulletin administratif no 9’, September 1895, pp. 554–569 : ‘Notices nécrologiques – Durenne (Antoine-Aubin)’ (PDF, from the website clio.ish-lyon.cnrs.fr, inactive at the time of writing); T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of Kensington and Chelsea with Westminster South-West, Watford, 2023, pp. xv–xvi; D.A. Cross, Public Sculpture of Lancashire and Cumbria, Liverpool, 2017, p. xx; R. McKenzie, Public Sculpture of Edinburgh (2 vols), Liverpool, 2018, vol. 2, pp. 324–32; Musée d’Orsay; Wikipédia.

Terry Cavanagh October 2023