LEMOYNE, Jean-Baptiste II
(b. 1704, Paris, d. 1778, Paris)


Sculptor, part of a family of French sculptors. Jean-Louis Lemoyne (1665-1755) was a pupil of Coysevox and is remembered mainly for portrait busts in his master's manner. His brother Jean-Baptiste I (1679-1731) was a figure and portrait sculptor of no great distinction. Jean-Louis's son, Jean-Baptiste II (1704-1778) was the outstanding member of the family, becoming official sculptor to Louis XV. He did much large-scale work at Versailles and elsewhere, but is renowned particularly for the vivacity of his portraits.

Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne II was trained by his father and from 1723 by Robert Le Lorrain, with additional advice from the portrait painters François de Troy and Nicolas de Largillierre; he won the Prix de Rome in 1725. However, his father's ill-health and financial misfortunes obliged him to forego the usual period of study at the Académie de France in Rome and to remain in Paris, a loss of which he was always conscious. From the age of sixteen he worked by night as well as day; and he was not to cease working for another sixty years.

In 1728 he was approved (agréé) by the Académie Royale on presentation of the marble group Pyrrhus Immolating Polyxenes on the Tomb of Achilles (untraced), and in 1738 he was received (reçu) as a full member with a marble statuette of a Young Girl Leaving the Bath (destroyed). He had a successful academic career, eventually succeeding François Boucher as Rector of the Académie in 1768.

He was Louis XV's favourite sculptor, and he executed busts of courtiers, magistrates, scholars, great writers, and - most significant of all - actors. His sitters were almost exclusively from French society; unlike Houdon he did not portray a series of distinguished foreigners, but it is fitting that one of the rare exceptions should have been the greatest European actor of the day, Garrick (the bust is lost). Besides portraiture, Jean-Baptiste was involved in Parisian church decoration, too.

Among his pupils were Falconet, Houdon, and Pigalle.