This sketchy plaster, an example of one of the most frequently replicated of Houdon's children's portraits, bears nail heads and markings that apparently served to "point up" a marble version. Although the model has long been attributed to Houdon, the actual date of its conception is uncertain since the different examples bear different dates. Its subject has traditionally been identified as Anne Audéoud, the daughter of a friend of Houdon's great Swiss patron, Jean Girardot de Marigny, in whose collection a bust of that name was documented and who must have commissioned the original.
Houdon varied the format of his children's portraits much as he did when modeling the most distinguished figures of his day—sometimes showing them bare-chested, á l'antique, sometimes in modern clothes, as in the fashionably ruffled dress worn here. The plaster captures the original clay's modeling of the whimsically tousled hair, one of Houdon's fortes, somewhat modified when transferred to marble.
Signature: On tranche: HOUDON F. 17... [partly illegible]
possibly Francis Guérault , Rennes (in 1916) ; Sarah Green Walters , New York (until 1941; her sale, Parke-Bernet Galleries, New York, April 30–May 3, 1941, cat. no. 1375); Bertha H. Buswell (until 1941; bequeathed to MMA)