Cast in Bronze
French Sculpture from Renaissance to Revolution
February 24–May 25, 2009
Beginning in the sixteenth century, a tradition of bronze sculpture developed in France that was influenced by achievements of the Italian Renaissance while manifesting its own distinct refinement and force. Even though French bronzes were among the glories of royal châteaux, including Versailles, and were always collected eagerly by connoisseurs, they have received relatively little scrutiny from scholars. This exhibition, the first to address the subject in many decades, displays approximately 120 of the finest statuettes, portrait busts, and monuments by masters such as Germain Pilon, Barthélemy Prieur, Michel Anguier, François Girardon, Antoine Coysevox, Jean-Baptiste Pigalle, and Jean-Antoine Houdon. Seen together, they reveal the French genius for bronze from the late Renaissance through the times of Louis XIV, Louis XV, and Louis XVI.
Left: François Lespingola (Joinville, 1644–Paris, 1705). Hercules Delivering Prometheus. Probably Paris, ca. 1675–1700. Bronze group; 16 3/4 x 23 1/4 x 14 1/8 in. (42.6 x 59 x 35.8 cm). Dresden, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Grünes Gewölbe GGIX.88