Bronze Rat, 2006
25.4 x 31.7 x 12.7cm (10 x 12 1/2 x 5 inches)
Incised with the artist’s signature
Stamped with the foundry mark and dated “BANKSY 06” (on the underside)
Bronze Rat is one of the rarest Banksy sculptures, as only 12 were produced. It portrays a rat carrying a back-pack, a reverse cap, and a giant paintbrush. He is obviously some kind of a painter, or more probably a graffiti artist. Rats are one of Banksy’s greatest sources of inspiration and one of the most prolific subjects in his work. An anagram of “ART,” the rat is an allegorical tool used by Banksy to reveal the vices and flaws of the human race, and to make a stand for those suffering from injustice.
The symbol of the rat is also closely associated with Banksy himself. Hunted down by the authorities, rats, like graffiti artists, tend to appear at night under the cover of darkness, and considered by much of society to be a pest. By giving the figure of the rat a voice, Banksy is speaking for those oppressed and weighed down by the endless competition and consumerism of capitalism – the “rat race.”
Banksy’s appreciation for rats is often attributed to French stencil artist Blek le Rat, who is widely considered to be the father of stencil graffiti and is famous for introducing urban art to France in the 1980’s, some 20 years before Banksy. Motivated by social consciousness, Blek le Rat chose to paint rats because they were “the only free animal in the city.”
Bronze Rat sold 6 times at auction since 2007.
It last sold at Sotheby’s Hong-Kong on 10 July 2020, for USD 241,916.