Houdon, Jean-Antoine

Houdon, Jean-Antoine

(zhäN-äNtwän` o͞odôN`), 1741–1828, French neoclassical sculptor. He studied with Michel Ange Slodtz, LemoyneLemoyne, Jean Baptiste
, 1704–78, French sculptor. Much of his work, including three equestrian statues of Louis XV, was destroyed in the French Revolution. His picturesque portrait busts of Voltaire, Fontenelle, and Mme de Pompadour are considered his best work.
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, and PigallePigalle, Jean Baptiste
, 1714–85, French sculptor. His skill embraced a wide range, from small works appealing to the taste of the court to large and elaborate tombs. Among the latter are the mausoleum of Marshal Maurice of Saxony, Church of St.
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, took the Prix de Rome at the age of 20, and spent four years in Italy. Many of his later works reveal his study of classical form, e.g., the marble Diana (St. Petersburg) and The Bather (Metropolitan Mus. of Art, N.Y.C.). He quickly became famous in Paris for his extraordinarily accurate portrait sculptures and received commissions from all over the world. In 1785 he visited the United States briefly and stayed at Mt. Vernon while making studies for his statue of Washington (capitol, Richmond, Va.). Among his portrait busts are those of Jefferson, Franklin, Diderot, Rousseau, John Paul Jones, Napoleon, Josephine, Lafayette, Molière, Mirabeau, Buffon, and Prince Henry of Prussia, and he also sculpted a full-length statue of Voltaire (Comédie Française). He succeeded not only in creating sculptural documents of his time, but in developing a type of portraiture remarkable for its elegance, measured realism, and depiction of individuality. Houdon exerted a strong influence over European and American sculptors for several generations.

Bibliography

See A. L. Poulet, Jean-Antoine Houdon: Sculptor of the Enlightenment (2004)

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