(b. 1731, Saint-Paulien, d. 1804, Paris)
French sculptor. He studied in Le Puy with the minor sculptor Gabriel Samuel (1689-1758) and in Lyon with Antoine-Michel Perrache (1726-79), who in 1758 recommended him to Guillaume Coustou in Paris. In 1765 Julien won the Prix de Rome with the relief Albinus Helping the Vestals to Flee the Gauls (untraced). After three years at the Ecole Royale des Eleves Protégés he went to the Académie de France in Rome (1768-72). Among his works from this time is a reduced copy (marble; Versailles, Château) of the antique statue Ariadne Abandoned, then known as Cleopatra.
In 1773 he returned to Coustou's studio and in 1776 suffered a humiliating check to his career when, on submission of his statue of Ganymede (marble; Paris, Louvre), he was refused admission to the Académie Royale (possibly at the instigation of his master). In 1779, however, he became a member of the Académie with the marble statue the Dying Gladiator (Paris, Louvre). He subsequently enjoyed a successful career, both working for private clients and receiving public commissions from the Bâtiments du Roi.
The most important of his official sculptures were the two life-size, seated marble statues commissioned by the Comte d'Angiviller, director of the Bâtiments du Roi, for the series of 'Illustrious Frenchmen'. Reflecting contemporary critical pleas for historical accuracy, his well-received statue of La Fontaine (1783-85; Paris, Louvre) was represented in 17th-century costume, while that of Poussin (1789-1804; Paris, Louvre) cleverly depicted the painter in his night-clothes, permitting Julien to carve simplified monumental drapery that might pass for a Classical toga.
Like most of his contemporaries Julien eclectically adopted Baroque, Rococo and Neoclassical styles as alternative modes of expression. His terracotta statuette of Silent Cupid (exhibited: Salon 1785; New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art) is fully Rococo in conception, while his most famous work, the group of a Girl Tending a Goat or Amalthea (marble, 1786-87; Paris, Louvre), executed for Marie-Antoinette's dairy at Rambouillet, modifies a typically Rococo conceit by using a model derived from the antique Capitoline Venus. Julien continued to exhibit at the Salons after the French Revolution and c. 1800 modelled a terracotta bust of Napoleon (untraced). He was made a member of the Légion d'honneur in the year of his death.