Marcel LÉMAR

Bronze with brown patina, signed « LEMAR »
Cast by Claude Valsuani, bears the foundry stamp « C.VALSUANI CIRE PERDUE »
Height: 3 ¼” (8.3 cm) x Width: 10” (25.5 cm) x Depth: 4” (10.2 cm)
Circa 1930

Related work: Musée National d’art moderne de Roubaix, Lézard, bronze, Valsuani cast, no. 3, inv. AM 763S.

Literature: Amandine Delcourt, Anne Rivière, Emmanuelle Héran, Les Marcel Lémar de la Piscine, Milan, 2013, page 105, model reproduced under no. 106; Armand Dayot, Les animaux vus par les meilleurs animaliers réalisations – dessins – études – etc animaux d’après nature, Paris, 1929, vol. 4, model reproduced pl. 11.


Marcel Lémar (whose real name was Léon Marcel Marceau) created a singular bestiary that set him apart from the animalier artists of his time. He focused on families that were often forgotten, marginal or unloved, such as batrachians or sauria, such as the the crocodile, the Komodo dragon or, in the case of our sculpture, the lizard. His scientific knowledge, particularly in the field of paleontology, may well explain his interest in these animals, the last survivors of the prehistoric era he was so passionate about. This rejected fauna, often considered ugly or repulsive, seduced him with its distinctive morphology, far more than a dramatic profile or exotic origin would have done. Considered “the sculptor of membrane and scale (…) the sculptor of beating skins”, he let the animal’s structure guide his inspiration. Our lizard is a perfect illustration of this. Depicted in a characteristic, uncontrived position, it stands up to mid-body, resting on its two front legs, forming a single axis from its outstretched head to the tip of its tail. It is a green lizard, larger than the wall lizard, depicted life-size. Its skin provides the artist with a magnificently worked surface, reminiscent of the simple, pure lines of wood engraving, a technique in which Lémar excelled. Similarities in the reptile’s position and the treatment of its scales can be seen in the representation of a crocodile in an engraving dating from 1925. As Lémar did not date any of his sculptures, it is not easy to establish a chronology. However, his early works (1920) are marked by a search for life-likeness, particularly in reptiles, as is the case in our model of a lizard. Later, he stylized his models more, building them up in planes, before moving towards a technique of juxtaposed masses, in which superfluous detail is eliminated. The treatment of our lizard, while quite precise and realistic, presents a slightly faceted shape in the head, body and legs. The model appears to be a work from his mature style, circa 1930.

Our example is a very fine cast by Claude Valsuani, Lémar’s regular founder, with delicate shades of brown with applied in transparency to evoke the reptile’s shiny skin.

The quality of our sculpture is further enhanced by its rarity, as very few examples of each model were produced.