Jean Antoine Houdon (French, Versailles 1741–1828 Paris)
1779, after a portrait of 1777
Height: 20 in. (50.8 cm)
Bequest of Benjamin Altman, 1913
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 552
Among the numerous busts Houdon showed at the Salon of 1777 were a pair of Louise Brongniart and her brother Alexandre, both children of the distinguished Neoclassical architect Alexandre-Théodore Brongniart (1739–1813). The originals, now believed to be the terracottas in the Louvre, were among the sculptor's most popular creations and that of the five-year-old Louise, in particular, was reproduced well into the twentieth century. The Museum's marble, with a kerchief headdress elaborating the knotted scarf that binds Louise's hairdo in the original, is now thought to be one of numerous later variants. Also unique to this example is the ruffled fichu that emphasizes the little girl's simply truncated exposed chest.
Signature: Incised beneath tranche at back: F[ait] P[ar] Houdon 1779
Miallet Collection , Paris (until 1902; sale, October 9, 1902; to Altman) ; Benjamin Altman , New York (1902–13; bequeathed to MMA)