A Pair of French Ormolu Figures of Children (‘L’Enfant Lisant’)
Jean-Baptiste Pigalle (Paris 1714 – 1785)
Late 19th Century
Bronze and Griotte Rouge Marble
The taller figure: 17 ½ inches (45cm) high, a pair.
After the models by Jean-Baptiste Pigalle, unsigned.
Inventory number: Scul_JBP
French sculptor Jean-Baptiste Pigalle (1714 – 1785) was born into a family of master carpenters in Paris. After failing to win the Prix de Rome in 1735, he studied independently in Rome at his own expense from 1736 to 1739. He became one of the most popular sculptors of his day.
His most famous work Mercury Fastening his Sandals (1744, Berlin, and lead cast in Louvre) is a classicizing work conveying qualities of both graceful ease and youthful vitality. In this pair of studying children, he succeeds to elevate a virtue of education at early age. One modeled as a young girl seated reading an open book, the other as a boy writing on a tablet, a folio tucked behind his feet, each on a fluted neo-classical base with feet and rosettes at the angles.
It is less commonplace than that of his more mature years, but his nude statue of Voltaire, dated 1776 (initially in the Institut de France, purchased by the Louvre in 1962), and his tombs of Comte d’Harcourt (c. 1764) (Notre Dame de Paris) and of Marshal Saxe, completed in 1777 (Saint-Thomas Lutheran church, Strasbourg), are good examples of French sculpture in the 18th century.Collection