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Animal sculpture is characterized by works where the main subject is an animal, domestic, wild or within the realm of imagination.

In Europe, the animal sculpture was considered minor for a long time. It sees a turning point on the occasion of the 1831 Paris show when Antoine - Louis Barye's sculpture (Tigre dévorant un gavial) arouses the admiration of the public. Barye is one of the first sculptors to make the animal the subject of the work with a naturalistic representation. It is at the end of the XIX°s, that the revival of the animal sculpture takes place.

The animal sculptures are particularly fashionable under the Second Empire and the most famous animal sculptors for this period are Antoine-Louis Barys, Emile-Coriolan Guillemin, Pierre Louis Rouillard, Pierre Jules Mêne and François Pompon.