Pilon, Germain(zhĕrmăN` pēlôN`), 1535–90, French sculptor. He was court sculptor under the later Valois sovereigns. He executed several sculptures on Henry II's mausoleum at Saint-Denis. In the Louvre are a number of his vigorously realistic works including The Three Graces, supporting an urn that once held the heart of Henry II; portrait busts of Henry II and Francis II; The Virgin; and, his masterpiece, the figure of Chancellor René de Birague. As controller of the mint under Charles IX he made the finest medallions, medals, and coins of his time.
Born 1536 or 1537 in Paris; died there Feb. 3, 1590. French Renaissance sculptor.
Pilon, the son of a stonemason, studied under P. Bontemps. His early works closely resemble the elegant figures of J. Goujon. This similarity may be seen in Pilon’s monument for the heart of Henry II, which consists of three marble Graces supporting an urn (1563, Louvre, Paris). By the 1570’s, emotional and dramatic elements had intensified in Pilon’s sculptures. His portrait statues and busts from this period are marked by an austere, at times merciless, verisimilitude of representation. Characteristic of his religious sculpture are tense, tragic figures. Works from this period include the sculptural ornament for the tomb of Henry II and Catherine de Médicis (designed by P. Les-cot, bronze and marble, 1563-70, Abbey of Saint-Denis), the tombstone statute of Chancellor René de Birague (bronze, 1583-85, Louvre), The Virgin of Pity (terra-cotta, 1586, Louvre), and the bust Henry II (marble, 1570–75, Louvre).
Appointed controller of the mint in 1572, Pilon also directed medal casting. His medals are marked by virtuoso detailing and by compactness and unity of composition.
REFERENCESBabelon, J. Germain Pilon. Paris .
Gaehtgens, T. W. Zum frühen und reifen Werk des Germain Pilon. Bonn, 1967.