With an approach to his art that begins with an intense observation of life around him, Richard MacDonald has often likened his creative method to that of earlier masters who spent long hours studying live models in preparation for beginning a new work. In Lion Study, MacDonald pays tribute to the great French Romantic sculptor, Antoine Louis Barye (1795-1875), an artist who made a practice of studying the live animals at the Jardin des Plantes in Paris as inspiration for his many animal-themed sculptures. Directly modeled on Barye’s most favorite work, Jaguar Devouring a Hare, the Lion Study also reflects MacDonald’s own observation of wild cats that has figured so prominently in his recent work.
Retaining the overall spirit and character of Barye’s work – in capturing the raw, untamed power of the animal – MacDonald’s sculpture possesses qualities of freshness and spontaneity that are only possible through direct observation of a live model. In this work, the lion’s entire being responds to pure, instinctual commands as it concentrates complete mental and physical energy towards devouring its prey. Like Barye before him, MacDonald has crated an artistic homage to the power of nature and to the instinctive will to will to survive.