Rembrandt Bugatti is the son of the famous Italian furniture designer, Carlo Bugatti, and the brother of the automobile manufacturer Ettore Bugatti. He was a gifted child and turned to animal sculpture at an early age. In 1902, he went with his family to Paris and three years later secured a contract with Hébrard to cast his works in bronze.
Success came quickly. In 1907, the Royal Society of Zoology (Société royale de zoologie) invited the young man to live in Antwerp, which gave him an opportunity to draw the animals in the Antwerp zoological gardens, one of the best zoos of the time. He was so fond of the animals that he was even allowed to feed and care for them.
Bugatti's bestiary was highly varied: European and exotic mammals, birds, reptiles, often species that no artist had ever represented. He particularly liked the wild cats. This panther is a good example of his terse, lively style.
Ill and plagued by depression, he was traumatised by the outbreak of war in 1914. He had to return to Paris. But the zoo was closed… Deprived of the company of animals, cut off from human beings, Bugatti gassed himself in 1916. He was not yet 33.