« Pedrolino » by joseph willems

Pedrolino, bust depicting a King’s fool.  The sculpture is the result of a lost wax cast. It has a light brown patina. 

           Pedrolino, bust depicting a King’s fool.  The sculpture is the result of a lost wax cast. It has a light brown patina.
The Sculpture is signed « J. Willems 1884 » standing for Joseph Willems and « Cie des Bronzes Bruxelles (cire perdue) » for the foundry « Compagnie des bronzes de Bruxelles (lost wax cast) ».

We have found only one other identical copy of Willems’ Pedrolino bust on the market during the last 20 years with a much worse cast quality.

Joseph Willems trained at the Academy of Mechelen from 1864 to 1867 with the sculptor Joseph Tuerlinckx (1809-1873). In 1867 he participated in his first competition organised by the Antwerp Fine Arts Society. He will win the first prize with his sculpture « Ruth gleaning on the Booz field » which will be executed in bronze by the Society to celebrate his victory. It will later even be executed in marble for the members of the Society.

In 1868 he went to Paris and enrolled at the Academy of Fine Arts. He was then appointed professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Mechelen in 1872. This last promotion will allow him to receive many commissions from the city of Antwerp, such as: « two timpans » and the statues « Painters », « Sculptors », « Comedy » and « Tragedy » for the Flemish Theatre in 1870 or « Justice » for the Court House of Tournai in 1877,…

Abroad he will execute for Romania in 1899 a bronze statue of « Cargeù » which will be placed on the Grand’ Place of Turn Severino.

He also obtained various medals: a silver medal at the Universal Exhibition in London in 1884, a silver medal at Port Adelaide in 1887, a gold medal at Melbourne (1888),…, a gold medal at the Universal Exhibition in Berlin in 1891 for his sculpture « Job on his manure ».

Foundry :    

– La Compagnie des Bronzes de Bruxelles : The largest Belgian art bronze foundry and one of the largest in Europe.

First created under the name « Comann et Compagnie » on July 6, 1854, it was renamed « Compagnie pour la fabrication du zinc et du bronze et des appareils d’éclairage » in 1859 and finally « Compagnie des Bronzes » in 1878. In 1878 the Company won a gold medal at the Universal Exhibition in Paris. In 1880 the Company’s shares were listed on the stock exchange and the Company had some 300 workers.

The foundry and the artist worked together for 2 years. We found correspondences between the artist and the foundry from November 1882 to November 1884.

  • Height : 57 cm
  • Base : Length x Width : 16 x 14,5 cm
  • Bronze – Lost wax cas
  • Model 1893 – Cast from 1894 (Lifetime cast)
  • ENGELEN, C. MARX, M. Compagnie des Bronzes. Brussel: Algemeen Rijksarchief en Rijksarchief in de Provincien, 2002. p. 388-389.
  • ENGELEN, C. MARX, M. La Sculpture en Belgique à partir de 1830. Louvain : Engelen – Marx, 2006. Tome VII p. 4220 – 4225.
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