19th Century Terracotta Bust – After Houdon



A finely modelled late 19th century terracotta bust of a young girl, set upon a turned marble socle.

After Jean-Antoine Houdon (1741 – 1828)

Born in Versailles in March 1741 Jean-Antoine Houdon was a French Neo-Classical sculptor best known for his busts of contemporary political and cultural figures of the French Enlightenment, who achieved popularity even though his commissions remained modest in scale. Houdon often sculpted directly from life or by casting his model’s faces. He was known particularly for his portraits and hailed for his deft ability to convey a sitter’s personality and liveliness in marble, bronze, plaster, and clay.

Jean-Antoine Houdon studied in Paris under such sculptors as Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne and Jean-Baptiste Pigalle. As a winner of the Prix de Rome, he worked in Rome from 1764 to 1768. There he was influenced by ancient artefacts, including those recently unearthed in Herculaneum and Pompeii, and works of Renaissance masters, especially Michelangelo. He created his important anatomical study of a standing man, known as the Écorché, or ‘flayed’ figure, which later was replicated and used in most art schools. The Écorché displays a continuing characteristic of his art: classicism combined with a merciless realism.

Perceived as bourgeois for his connections to the court of Louis XVI, he fell out of favour during the French Revolution although he escaped imprisonment.
His best known works of sculpture are studies of Voltaire, George Washington, and Napoleon. Jean-Antoine Houdon died in Paris on 15th July 1828 and was interred at Cimetiére du Montparnasse.

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