Height: 19in (47cm, Base: 8in2 (20cm2)
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This sculpture is created from ivory, gilt bronze, grey, white and polished black marble. It depicts a Knight Templar, standing, holding his sword in both hands with its tip resting on the ground between his feet. The expressive ivory face is carved in fine detail. His body and head are covered in gilt chainmail under a white surcoat and a highly polished black cloak, both incised with a cross. The grey plinth is incised ‘Delagrange’. French, circa 1900. (Ivory licence D5JM6EZH.)
Leon Delagrange was a talented sculptor born in France in 1872. Commended by the Society of French Artists for his entry in the exhibition of 1901, his two most famous works are Le Page Royal (usually known in English as the Florentine Page) and the present work, Le Templier, representing a member of the Knights Templar. Delagrange’s bronze work was cast at the famous Arthur Goldscheider Foundry in Paris, a foundry particularly renowned for its production of exceptional mixed method sculptures of which this is a prime example. Although such productions remained very popular throughout the Art Deco period, Delagrange himself abandoned sculpture in 1908 to devote himself entirely to his passion for aviation. In 1907, Delagrange ordered a biplane from the Voisin Brothers and he was elected president of the Aviation Club of France later that same year. Delagrange was an aviation pioneer and set several early world records for flight speed and distance flown, including flying 6 miles in 7 minutes and 36 seconds (approximately 52 miles per hour) in Doncaster, England in 1909 in conditions that were windy and far from ideal for the planes of the period. Tragically Delagrange’s career was cut short when he was killed in an air accident in 1910, the fourth pilot to be killed in this early period in the development of aviation. However, rather appropriately for the subject of the present sculpture, Delagrange was made a Knight of the Légion d’honneur in July 1909, a significant national honour for a multi-talented artist and daredevil pioneer.
Richard I, The Lionheart, (1157-1199) unlike the leaders of the First Crusade, did not embark on the Third Crusade to win new lands but to re-capture the Holy Land for Christendom. However, by a twist of fate, he conquered Cyprus on his way to Acre (see the sand picture on the previous page). Unwilling to delay his quest and always in need of funds for his armies, Richard seized the contents of the treasury and sold the island to the Knights Templar.
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“Le Templier” by the Goldscheider Foundry after a design by Leon Delagrange