Crouching Tiger is one of over two hundred watercolors that Barye painted, mainly as preparatory sketches for his bronzes. Like his statues these works are noted for their energetic realism, Barye studied the anatomy of his subjects at the Paris Zoological Gardens. From 1854 until his death he would hold the post of master of zoological drawings in the Musée d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris. The tiger seen here has a coiled muscularity, and is perhaps ready to pounce. Attention to detail and accurate rendering of his animals was a feature in his paintings and sculptures alike. Typical of Barye's watercolors the animal seen here is set not in its indigenous Asia, but rather in the Forest of Fontainebleau, which Barye visited and where he established friendships with many Barbizon painters. Another feature of Crouching Tiger common among Barye's watercolors is the sense of human emotion shown by his animal subjects, and which is true of his animal bronzes as well. It was his technical ability and his romantic spirit that made Barye very popular with the public. Unfortunately none of Barye's watercolors were dated, making it difficult to say with any accuracy when this particular work was painted, a matter complicated by the oft-repeated themes and simple titles. A study of Barye bronzes does not reveal a statue that appears as a direct copy of Crouching Tiger.