Louise Brongniart

Artist: Jean Antoine Houdon (French, Versailles 1741–1828 Paris)

Date: 1779, after a portrait of 1777

Culture: French, Paris

Medium: Marble

Dimensions: Height: 20 in. (50.8 cm)

Classification: Sculpture

Credit Line: Bequest of Benjamin Altman, 1913

Accession Number: 14.40.670


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.