In the 19th century, the middle classes filled their homes with bronze sculptures - miniature reproductions of the famous works that thrilled the artistic elite of Paris. Produced using an industrial process, and sold through catalogues by numerous art foundries, these editions provided a good income for artists.
The most common technique of reproduction was sand casting. This complex method involved making a mould of the work in sand and then pouring the molten bronze into the cavity created. The extreme resistance of the materials used allowed this operation to be repeated indefinitely, while the high quality of the reproductions produced by this method guaranteed its success. Clients could then choose different elements (patina, base, etc) according to their taste, and personalise their acquisition.
The Maison Susse, a famous 19th-century foundry honoured with many international prizes, has a history that goes back almost two centuries. The Susse family were originally from Lorraine where they specialised in furniture making before moving to Paris and turning their attentions to other business activities like selling paper and artists' materials.
The Susse foundry opened on 27 June 1827 with the signing of the first contract in which the artist Charles Cumberworth agreed the rights to cast an edition of the statuette Napolitaine. In 1839, the brothers acquired a foundry in the rue du Faubourg du Temple. They won major contracts to produce editions of Dalou's work in 1899 and Carpeaux's work in 1914. In 1975, Arlette Susse decided to sell the family business. Today, the Susse foundry in Arcueil is the last great 19th-century foundry still operating.