Huntsman on the Hill

by Ben Thomas
Publish date
9 February 2012
Comments (10)

Ben is an assistant curator currently researching the collections of wealthy Melbourne wool merchant and art collector, John Twycross, for an upcoming book and online exhibition. On the weekends, he likes to wander through grand gardens and restore his 1920s State Savings Bank bungalow home.

Returning to Melbourne following an impromptu drive up Mount Macedon, I stopped at Forest Glade, one of the mountain's well-known private gardens that is open to the public. Barely had I gone a few steps through the garden's cast iron gates when I recognised a very familiar sculptural group. I rushed forward and had my suspicions confirmed.

Alfred Jacquemart’s Huntsman and Dogs Alfred Jacquemart’s Huntsman and Dogs, cast by Val d’Osne c.1879, in the Forest Glade private gardens on Mount Macedon. The cast was included in the company’s exhibits at the 1880 Melbourne International Exhibition.
Image: B. Thomas
Source: B. Thomas

Huntsman and Dogs, also known as Hunter and Hounds or by its French title, Le chaussuer et les chiens, was originally produced by the noted French sculptor, Henri Alfred Marie Jacquemart (1824-96), often known as Alfred Jacquemart, famed for his realistic representations of animal figures. He studied painting and sculpture at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris and was a regular exhibitor at the Paris Salon from 1847. His reputation as one of France's leading monumental sculptors was recognised in 1870 when he was awarded the Chevalier of the Legion of Honour, the country's highest decoration.

Among his many monumental works, Jacquemart also produced a number of sculptures for commercial production, which were cast by the French foundries of Val d'Osne in 'imitation bronze'; a technique of casting in iron that was then coated with a thin surface of copper through electrolysis. Over time, the aging copper developed a green patina giving the appearance of a genuine bronze casting.

Detail of the base of statue Detail of the base of Huntsman and Dogs.
Image: B. Thomas
Source: B. Thomas

Val d'Osne exhibited Huntsman and Dogs at the 1879 Sydney International Exhibition and the following year at the 1880 Melbourne International Exhibition where it was mounted on a stone plinth at the front of the eastern forecourt to the Exhibition Buildings, at the edge of Nicholson Street. Val d'Osne was awarded a silver First Order of Merit for their castings at the 1880 Melbourne International Exhibition.

display of decorative castings in the eastern forecourt of the Exhibition Buildings during the 1880 Melbourne International Exhibition Val d’Osne’s display of decorative castings in the eastern forecourt of the Exhibition Buildings during the 1880 Melbourne International Exhibition, with Jacquemart’s Huntsman and Dogs in the foreground of the Nicholson Street entrance.
Source: Museum Victoria

One cast of Huntsman and Dogs was purchased by the New South Wales government at the conclusion of the Melbourne Exhibition in 1881 for £180; almost $13,000 in today's terms. It was mounted in the gardens surrounding Sydney's exhibition building, the Garden Palace, but was damaged when the Palace burnt down in 1882. It was restored in September 2001 and is now situated in Sydney's Royal Botanic Gardens.

The Huntsman and Dogs in the Forest Glade gardens apparently remained installed at the Exhibition Building, but – much like its Sydney counterpart – was badly damaged when the Aquarium situated in the building’s eastern annexe was destroyed in a fire in 1953. Forest Glade’s present owners recount that the sculpture languished for a time at the back of a nursery, until being bought from a Richmond-based art auctioneer after the 1983 Ash Wednesday bushfires. It now finds a fitting home, nestled amongst its garden bed of maples, greeting visitors to these wonderful gardens.

Comments (10)

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Jen 10 February, 2012 11:40
lisa 10 February, 2012 12:02
I live near mt. macedon and was intrigued by the sculpture youve mentioned. the history behind it is fascinating and we will definetly be going to visit. Good luck with the book and exhibition, i look forward to reading/seeing them.
James 8 April, 2012 19:43
Wish it could be returned to its original position. :)
beachcomberaustralia 21 September, 2012 20:30
A photo of the Sydney cast just after the 1882 fire has just been posted on Flickr by State Records NSW. I have linked to this interesting blog. Thanks!
pellethepoet 21 September, 2012 22:18
According to Edwin Wilson at the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney, the Melbourne copy of the statue did not remain installed at the Exhibition Building, but was privately purchased - "Huntsman and Dogs was cast by the Val d'Osne Company and two copies were sold to Australia - one to the Sydney Gardens, the other to a family living in Melbourne at the corner of Burke Road and Myrniong Grove, Camberwell, which became a showpiece for tourists long before World War I. Their daughter married Mr. J. F. S. Allan, and the sculpture was transported to its present site [that is, in 1992] at 330 Canterbury Road, at the corner of Wantirna Road, Ringwood. The Melbourne sculpture was at one stage exhibited in the sculpture court at the Nicholson Street entrance to the Exhibition Building, as photographed by Nicholas Caire in 1881." Source: Edwin Wilson, The Wishing Tree (Sydney, Kangaroo Press in association with the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney, 1992), p. 96.
Virginia McGowan 20 July, 2015 01:21
Re the date of the statue corner of Canterbury road and Wantirna Road , my Mother's family lived next door from 1911 to 1964 and that statue was in Allan's front yard as far as back I myself can remember only remember from 1945 being 5 then, not 1992. maybe removed or resold then?
pellethepoet 21 September, 2012 23:00
A 'magnificent bronze garden statue, "Huntsman and Dogs," by A. Jacquemart', was listed for sale at auction among the contents of the estate of the late Hon Duncan E. McBryde, "Kamesburgh," Wallace Avenue, Toorak on Friday, 6 May 1921 -
pellethepoet 21 September, 2012 23:36
Here's another newspaper advertisement mentioning the statue, tallying with Edwin Wilson's history of ownership. The 'beautiful bronze statue, Huntsman and Dogs, by A. Jacquemart, which is standing in the grounds of Myrniong' was listed for sale at auction in the estate of the late William Thomas Cale on Saturday, 14 September 1940. -
White Hawke 23 October, 2012 18:56
Owned, really?
Julie Rosiere 14 July, 2013 13:46
Hi Ben, Remember me - I'm the eldest daughter of Vilma May Rosier (now Rosiere), descendants of James Watson Rosier (gunmaker). Trying to reach you as I have lost your email address since my old computer died! Please be in touch when you can as I have some things to talk about with you. Thankyou so much, Best regards, Julie
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