French, Paris; 438 lb. (198.6755 kg); pedestal: H. 34 in. (86.4 cm)
Image rights: The Metropolitan Museum of Art (Bequest of Kate Trubee Davison, 1962), licensed under CC0 1.0 Universal
About Jean-Antoine Houdon
Jean-Antoine Houdon was a sculptor prominent during the French Enlightenment, who achieved popularity even though his commissions remained modest in scale. 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. Of humble origins, Houdon trained under Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne and Jean-Baptiste Pigalle, as well as by copying classical Roman masterpieces. His mixed and highly adaptable style was perhaps the result of living through two revolutions and subsequent changes in stylistic trends; Houdon’s work variously demonstrated Baroque, Neoclassical, and Rococo influences. He persisted, however, in his devotion to anatomical study. Houdon remained successful during turbulent times by first making portraits of visitors from foreign courts and governments, leading thinkers of the Enlightenment, and later for figures of the French Revolution.
French, 1741-1828, Versailles, France