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Bust of the Poet Jean de La Fontaine (1621-1695)

Jean-Antoine Houdon, French (active Paris), 1741 - 1828

Made in France, Europe

c. 1782-1783


35 1/2 x 25 1/4 x 13 3/4 inches (90.2 x 64.1 x 34.9 cm)

Curatorial Department:
European Decorative Arts and Sculpture

* Gallery 388, European Art 1500-1850, third floor

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Purchased with the Fiske Kimball Fund and the Marie Kimball Fund, 1966

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In 1781, Monsieur Haudry, an art collector in Orléans, France, commissioned a terracotta bust of the poet Jean de La Fontaine as a companion piece to an earlier bust by Houdon showing the playwright Molière. As a point of departure for depicting La Fontaine, Houdon used a seventeenth-century image by Hyacinthe Rigaud (1659-1743). In revising the terracotta composition for this marble, the artist enlarged the lower part of the portrait, rendering it grander and making it, in its form, more like a seventeenth-century bust. This sculpture was probably the one Houdon exhibited in the Paris Salon of 1783.

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