Born in Milan, Rembrandt Bugatti was the son of the designer Carlo Bugatti and brother of Ettore Bugatti. At the age of 12, he was already familiar with wood and metal work. He created his first artworks during family travels in the Italian Mountains; inspired by the animals he encountered, he modeled the likes of cattle and other livestock using plasticine. In 1901, his bronze sculptures were displayed for the first time at the ‘Galerie Grubicy’.
Two years later, Bugatti’s family settled in Paris, close to the Jardin des Plantes. Despite never having any academic training, Rembrandt Bugatti fulfilled his passion for wildlife by contemplating the wild animals of the menagerie and studying their anatomy. Buggati would then translate his insights into the material with sensitivity and realism of its own, he would prefer hand-free modeling and create without preparatory sketches.
In 1904, Adrien Aurélien Hébrard, founder of the Hébrard Foundry, chose the Buggati’s works for the opening of his Parisian gallery, ‘rue Royale’. The exhibition was accredited with great success amongst critics of the time who praised his sensibility and realism.
As of 1906, Rembrandt Bugatti traveled between France, Germany, and Belgium where he frequently visited the zoological park of Anvers. It was here where he found the inspiration for his famous “Asian Elephants”, Bugatti’s Elephants were displayed during an exhibition in the Hébrard Gallery in 1908 as well as in the Parisian Salons.
From his observations at the zoological park grew also Buggati’s fascination with exotic beasts; such as kudu, giraffes, bears, and rhinos. He carved his material sharply, injecting power and vitality to his subjects.
Bugatti’s work is so prolific that in 1911, the Hébrard Gallery organized a retrospective exhibition in honor of him titled “100 sculptures”.
However, the First World War interrupted his artistic growth. In fact, deeply traumatized by the global chaos and the distress he felt, Rembrandt Bugatti, could not continue modeling, thus deciding to end his life at his studio in Montparnasse in January 1916.
Rembrandt Buggati is an emblematic sculptor of his thrilling, and great era, his works represent the transition between classic and modern sculpture. He is one the founding fathers alongside Pompon in respects to the renewal of Animal representation’s within sculpture.