The Valsuani foundry was started by the Italian brothers Claude and Attilio Valsuani who learned the foundry trade while employed at the famous Hébrard art foundry. While working for Hébrard, Claude Valsuani showed great promise as a finisher and eventually worked his way up to become the Technical Director of the Hébrard foundry. In 1899 Claude Valsuani started his own foundry in Châtillon, casting mostly small works for various artists primarily using the lost wax technique of casting (cire perdue). In 1905 he moved his foundry to 74, rue des Plantes in Paris.
Among the better known sculptors who had the Valsuani foundry cast their works were: Degas, Rodin, Renoir, Gauguin, Maillol, Picasso, Modigliani, Matisse, Giacometti, Brancusi, etc.
The Valsuani foundry quickly acquired a great reputation, particularly for its outstanding mastery of lost wax casting.
Claude Valsuani was also « (…) celebrated for the beautiful patinas he created with a blowtorch », a technique imported from Italy which, he said, « did not leave [any] deposit of carbon» and gave the sculptures a beautiful glossy aspect. One of the foundry’s most famous patinas until now is called the noir Valsuani (Valsuani black).
Last but not least, Claude Valsuani was among the first casters to fight against counterfeiting and unauthorized editions by marking each sculpture with the total number of casts in a series as part of his numerical notation (eg. 1/10).
Claude Valsuani died in 1923 in his native Italy, but his son, Marcele, took over the running of the foundry and continued to produce extremely fine detailed bronzes until the 1970's.
The artist Leonardo Benatov, who had worked with Valsuani as a sculptor, then bought the foundry in 1981 after Marcele Valsuani had left Paris. He took over the Valsuani catalogue and foundry mark and successfully set himself in the finest tradition of bronze casting.
He renamed the foundry Airaindor-Valsuani and moved it to larger and better equiped premices in Chevreuse, 20 km from Paris, where it since then operates.
Construction works took place from 1981 to 1985. A huge building of 2000 m2 houses three induction melting furnaces buried in the ground, allowing to cast bronzes weighing up to 1,6 tons all in one piece .
Being an artist himself, Leonardo Benatov also mastered the science of bronze casting, which allowed him to attract famous artists around the world such as Michel Guino, Mikhail Shemyakin, Karsten Klingbeil, Xavier Degans, Jean Fréour, Jean Vérame, Anthony Quinn, etc. who chose Airaindor-Valsuani to immortalize their art.
He nevertheless always reserved a special place in his heart to the works of Dalí, whom he unconditionally admired. Following their meeting in 1981, Dalí even gave him the exclusive right to carry out his main sculptures: among which the various versions of the Venus de Milo with drawers, The Minotaur or the series of fifteen low reliefs in homage to Picasso commissioned in 1976 by an Italian banker.
The Valsuani stamp is therefore more than ever a guarantee of quality, not only for the artists themselves, along with the experts, the collectors, the art dealers or the auction houses, but also for the museums since the foundry has recently completed monumental sculptures for the following institutions :
NON-EXHAUSTIVE LIST OF ARTISTS WHO HAD THEIR SCUPTURES CAST AT THE VALSUANI FOUNDRY
Honore Daumier (1808-1979)
Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux (1827-1875)
Edgar Degas (1834-1917)
Aime-Jules Dalou (1838-1902)
Auguste Rodin (1840-1917)
Auguste Renoir (1841-1919)
Georges Jeannin (1841-1925)
Paul Gauguin (1848-1903)
Francois Pompon (1855-1933)
Antoine Bourdelle (1861-1929)
Aristide Maillol (1861-1944)
Paul Troubetskoi (1866-1938)
Joseph-Antoine Bernard (1866- 1931)
Henri Matisse (1869-1954)
Charles Despiau (1874-1946)
Einar Jonsson (1874-1954)
Henri Valette (1877-1962)
Pablo Gargallo (1881-1934)
Fernand Leger (1881-1955)
Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
Robert Wlerick (1882-1944)
Rembrandt Bugatti (1884-1916)
Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920)
Henri Laurens (1885-1954)
Philippe Asselin (1887-1976)
Richard Guino (1890-1973)
Ossip Zadkine (1890-1967)
Max Ernst (1891-1976)
Asmundur Sveinsson (1893-1982)
Jean Fautrier (1898-1964)
Henry Moore (1898-1986)
Anne-Marie Profillet (1898-1939)
Arno Breker (1900-1991)
Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966)
Salvador Dali (1904-1989)
Gunnar Nilsson (1904-1995)
Germaine Richier (1904-1959)
William Chattaway (ne en 1927)
Constantin Brancusi (1876-1957)
Antoni Clave (1913-2005)
Anthony Quinn (1915-2001)
Leonardo Benatov (born 1942)
Arlette Ginioux (born 1944)
NON-EXHAUSTIVE LIST OF MUSEUMS EXHIBITING SCULPTURES BY THE VALSUANI FOUNDRY
There are sculptures made by Valsuani in museums all around the world. Having cast the works of many famous artists, the foundry is for instance represented by 185 sculptures in the Musée d’Orsay – among which : Daumier, Carpeaux, Dalou, Renoir, Gauguin, Pompon, Bourdelle, Maillol, Bonnard, Bugatti, Matisse. – and 225 sculptures by 44 different artists at the Centre Georges Pompidou – Matisse, Brancusi, etc. –.\
Listing them all is therefore not a simple task to accomplish.