Au Loup!!, Bronze, 1888

Au Loup!! (After the Wolf!!), was the third work of art to be accessioned into the Saginaw Art Museum’s collection upon its establishment in 1947. Completed by French artist Louis Auguste Hiolin, the sculpture depicts a young shepherd and his dog who, after discovering their fallen lamb, are in pursuit of the unseen wolf responsible for its death. French hunting scenes such as this one were particularly common in terms of subject matter for artists working in the popular 19th century style known as Realism. Realism was especially prominent in France, and rejected the idealized academic styles of the past in favor of everyday subjects. In addition, France has long had a history of rich hunting and riding traditions, of which it remains exceedingly proud.

Au Loup!! is a cast sculpture made of bronze and coated with a medium brown patina. In the natural world, patinas are produced on the surfaces of metals through the process of oxidation. Over time however, patinas have become esteemed for their ornamental qualities, and artists often applied manmade versions to their metallic sculptures, especially in the case of bronzes. Bronze, a metal alloy composed of copper and tin, has been a medium of choice for sculptors throughout history.  This may be attributed in part to bronze’s suitability for creating cast sculptures – a sculpture-making method in which the work is produced with molds. As molds can be reused, artists normally make several casts of their work, which means, as is the case with SAM’s Au Loup!!, that there is more than one “original.”

A cast of Hiolin’s Au Loup!!, arguably his best known work, was exhibited at the Salon in 1887 and acquired that same year by the city of Paris at the Buttes-Chaumont.