Q: I have owned a 3 1/4-inch bronze sculpture of a cat for about 20 years. It’s signed “E. Fremiet.” I read that it is quite valuable. Is it?
A: Maybe. Emmanuel Fremiet (1824-1910) was born in Paris and became a well-known sculptor of large monuments and small animals. He sculpted several cats. Fremiet, like other bronze sculptors, created his work using clay or wax. Turning an original clay or wax sculpture into bronze is a complicated process. The original is taken to a foundry, which makes a rubber mold of the model. Wax is poured in and sloshed around until a hollow wax model is created, then a ceramic coating is applied to the wax and the model is fired so the wax melts out. The ceramic shell that’s left is filled with molten bronze and cooled. Then the shell is removed and the bronze sculpture is polished. The mold for a small bronze can be used about 25 times. Each sculpture is an “original.” The problem is that copies of any bronze sculpture can be made from an original bronze or from a copy of the original. Prices for small Fremiet originals are several hundred dollars or more. Copies of any kind sell for less; prices depend on their quality. An expert needs to look at your sculpture in person to judge it.