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JEAN ANTOINE HOUDON

Houdon Jean-Antoine
(Versailles, 1741 - Paris, 1828)

Author : Houdon Jean-Antoine
(Versailles, 1741 - Paris, 1828)
Size : Height: 18.50 Inches; Width: 7.87 Inches; Depth: 7.67 Inches.
(fracture and missing at the nose)

More details :
Portrait of Grétry André Ernest Modeste
(Liége, 1741 - Montmorency, 1810
Plaster bust, in old bronze
Unsigned, dated around 1779 -1780.
More view :


This unique bust of Grétry, famous composer of music, is probably the model that helped Houdon to make a marble version, who has in the past decorated the foyer of the old opera in Paris, where it was destroyed by a fire.

Georges Giacometti underlined in his biography of Houdon that it seems he didn’t know that the plaster copy existed in terracotta or in bronze.

Houdon had never exposed the Grétry bust at the exhibition, only Augustin Pajou exposed a plaster bust of the composer at the exhibition of 1781.

This bust in Hermes form presents character without any arrangement and complete lack of accessories. Houdon had modulated also in this same form the plaster bust of Gluck before the picture of the composer was made. The Grétry marble that disappeared in the fire at the opera was probably dressed or was identical as the plaster version.

Concerning the date of this plaster model, it could have taken place during the same period of the bust made by Pajou in 1780.

This plaster wasn’t signed and has not been dated, makes us believe that Houdon thought it unnecessary to sign it and estimated that it was authentic enough by his indisputable personnel style.

This Grétry bust shows us its artistic values all the quality and particularity of his style that it is the best signature that Houdon could have done.


Bibliography:
Georges Giacometti - the life and work of Houdon
Paris - 1928.

Louis Réau - Houdon His life and work
Paris - 1964.

Stanislas Lami sculptors dictionary of the French school.
In the eighteenth century
Volume 1, Paris 1910

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