Found in Tursac in the Dordogne, this sculpture, like many others whose general shape is controlled by that of the fragment of reindeer wood used for its manufacture, belongs to what can be called the "flattened round bump", in the sense that the thickness of the object does not correspond to reality. It's probably a propellant fragment.
Bison licking" is one of the best known works of Palaeolithic art. The animal's body and legs, one of which is broken, have nothing sensational: the shape is correct, the attitude is well captured, but perhaps less alive than for other objects.
On the other hand, the masterpiece is due to the fact that the artist, who lacked the material to sculpt the animal's head, represented it "in a retrospective position"; he then treated this head by elevating it slightly on the animal's body and with such mastery that this buffalo head can be considered as one of the most beautiful of all Palaeolithic figuration.
An excellent description of the object is published by Capitan and Peyrony: "The way in which this head is treated amazes us; everything is there, the rounded forehead covered with horsehair, the busky nose covered with hairs, one horn in relief, the other in hollow, the ear small, the eye large and well studied, the mucous membranes of the nose and mouth separated from the skin by a line of dashed lines, the baleen and the mane well represented by long striations. The tongue coming out of the mouth, hollowed out on the back, the legs well marked, the whole shaped in a surprising way".
Reproduction in patinated resin
Dimensions with base:
Height: 9 cm
Width: 10.5 cm
Depth: 3.5 cm
Weight: 200 g
Origin: Madeleine shelter, Tursac, Dordogne
Museum: Saint-Germain-en-Laye, National Archaeological Museum