COUSTOU, Nicolas
(b. 1658, Lyon, d. 1733, Paris)

Biography

Sculptor, part of a French family of sculptors. François Coustou (d 1690), a wood-carver and brother-in-law of the sculptor Antoine Coysevox, had two sons who became sculptors, Nicolas Coustou (1658-1733) and Guillaume Coustou I (1677-1746), and a daughter, Eléonore, whose son was the sculptor Claude Francin. The brothers moved from their native Lyon to train with Coysevox in Paris, where they spent the greater part of their careers. They worked on royal projects, notably at the château of Marly, Yvelines, which was the original location of Guillaume Coustou's celebrated Marly Horses now in the Louvre, Paris. Of Guillaume's sons, Charles Pierre Coustou (1721-97) was active as an architect, and Guillaume Coustou II (1716-1777) became a sculptor, like his uncle and father spending his early career in Rome and returning to work in France but also contributing to the statuary for Sanssouci, Potsdam.

Nicolas Coustou went to Paris in 1676 to study under his maternal uncle, Antoine Coysevox. In 1682 he won the Prix de Rome, and from 1683 until 1686 he was at the Académie de France in Rome, where among other works he made a copy with variations (marble; Versailles, Château, Parterre de Latone) of the antique statue of Commodus as Hercules. On his return to France he was approved (agréé) by the Académie Royale in 1687 and received (reçu) as a full member in 1693 on presentation of an allegorical relief representing the Recovery of Louis XIV from Illness (marble; Paris, Louvre).

He had a very successful academic career there, being appointed a professor in 1702, rector in 1720 and chancellor in the year of his death. In 1690 he married Suzanne Houasse, daughter of the painter René-Antoine Houasse. He was probably the teacher of Roubiliac.