The Animal Gazer
A hypnotic novel inspired by the strange and fascinating life of sculptor Rembrandt Bugatti, brother of the fabled automaker. With World War One closing in and the Belle Époque teetering to a close, Bugatti leaves his native Milan for Paris, where he encounters Rodin and casts his bronzes at the same foundry used by the French master. In Paris and then Antwerp, Bugatti obsessively observes and sculpts the baboons, giraffes and panthers in the municipal zoos, finding empathy with their plight, identifying with their life in captivity. As the Germans drop bombs over the Belgian city, the zoo authorities are forced to make a heart-wrenching decision about the fate of the caged animals, and Bugatti is stricken with grief from which he’ll never recover. Rembrandt Bugatti’s work, now being rediscovered after decades of neglect, is displayed in major art museums around the world and routinely fetches huge sums at auction. Edgardo Franzosini recreates the young artist’s life with intense lyricism, passion and sensitivity.