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François Girardon, French, 1628 - 1715

Made in France, Europe

Terracotta model c. 1675; cast in bronze after 1715


27 1/2 x 14 1/2 x 10 5/8 inches (69.9 x 36.8 x 27 cm)

Curatorial Department:
European Decorative Arts and Sculpture

* Gallery 276, European Art 1500-1850, second floor

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Purchased with the Fiske Kimball Fund and the Marie Kimball Fund, 1976

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Girardon created the terracotta model for this bronze for an undocumented project; it was most likely destined for the palace or gardens of Versailles. Such statuettes were presented for approval before full-scale plasters were executed in preparation for the final marble carving or bronze casting.

This bronze was cast after the artist's death, and only two examples of this piece are known today. One of the bronzes was recorded as in the collection of the elector of Bavaria, Germany, in the early 1730s.

Additional information:
  • PublicationPhiladelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections

    This statuette is rare in being a well-documented French bronze. A terracotta model of the subject by François Girardon appears in a print depicting objects in his possession and was mentioned in an inventory of the sculptor's studio drawn up after his death. One version of Girardon's Apollo in bronze--perhaps this very piece--was at the palace of Schleissheim in Germany by 1722, evidence that bronze casts of the terracotta were made soon after the sculptor's death in 1715. The subject represents the sun god, symbol of Louis XIV of France, who provided most of Girardon's commissions. The sculptor almost certainly began with a compositional sketch by Charles Le Brun, first painter to the king. The size and detail of this work are those of a finished model to be shown to a patron for approval. The Apollo seems not to have been carried out on a large scale, but the dignified style of this bronze exemplifies the courtly art created for Louis XIV's palace at Versailles. Dean Walker, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p. 136.

* Works in the collection are moved off view for many different reasons. Although gallery locations on the website are updated regularly, there is no guarantee that this object will be on display on the day of your visit.

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