Chicago Antiques Guide

The Chicago Antiques Guide Blog

Jules-Felix Coutan Bronze

Posted Thursday, October 27 by CAG

A reader from San Francisco writes, "I have a ~26” sculpture by Jules Felix Coutan. I believe the statue to be cast in bronze as it is extraordinarily heavy. I purchased mine at an antique store and was told it was made at the beginning of 20th century, which jives with the life of J. Coutan.

My questions are: why would an artist make different copies of the same statue, sometimes slightly different, in different sizes (through internet I’ve seen a version of mine at 41”); with even different signatures (mine is signed J Coutan P, I have no idea what the ‘P’ stands for…); with different coloring, I’ve seen all brown bronze, mine has various colors; and how many copies of this particular statue were made? Finally, what do you think is the value of this statue?

I would appreciate any insight and expertise you can provide on the artist and the statue (titled “Angel with Bow”, or sometimes “Cupid”)."
Coutan Bronze.jpg

The most basic answer to the question why an artist would make multiple sizes and colors is "marketing". Give people more choices and you can sell more works. Also larger sizes and gilt or polychrome patinas (like yours, multicolored), sell for more money. I have seen bronzes in four different patinas, chocolate brown, verdigris (green), gilt (gold plated) and polychrome (multi-colored). Not all bronzes were created originally with different patinas. It is possible to have a bronze "repatinated" in a different color.

Multiple sizes could be the work of the original foundry, but might also indicate that a piece was made by different foundry, or be a reproduction. Bronzes are not typically made in limited editions. So, it is difficult if not impossible to say how many were made.

I also found your piece listed by at least 3 different names. A number of the pieces were signed "J. Coutan Rome" and also included the foundry mark for "Colin & Cie Paris". You did not mention if your also has the foundry mark. I believe Colin & Cie to be the original foundry. Sometimes the molds are sold to another company and the piece is reissued as a "recast". Sometimes the piece is reproduced at a later date with new molds, usually made from an original piece. Reproductions of this sculpture are currently available on line from JL Gallery Arts, ETC, and are cast to order.

As to pricing, originals with the Colin & Cie foundry mark, in your size, with the brown patina have sold for as much as $3,800 at auction. In an antique store or gallery I can see them being priced in the $4,000 to $6,000 range. Without being able to see yours in person, I can not give an estiamte for yours. To get an in person evaluation you could take it to a reliable auction house in your area. In San Francisco, Bonham's & Butterfields will be doing an Auction Appraisal Event on Monday October 31.

Leave a comment

Weblog Archives