LEMOYNE, Jean-Louis
(b. 1665, Paris, d. 1755, Paris)

Biography

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 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. Among his pupils were Falconet, Houdon and Pigalle.

Jean-Louis Lemoyne was the son of a painter, himself the son of a sculptor who had worked on the façade of the Louvre. A pupil of Antoine Coysevox, he won the Prix de Rome in 1687 with a low relief of the Flood (untraced), although he did not undertake the customary journey to Italy. Instead he entered the Ecole Académique at Bordeaux, presenting as his morceau de réception a portrait of Louis XIV (walnut, 1692; untraced). While in Bordeaux he modelled his bust of Michel Du Plessis (marble, 1694; Bordeaux, Musée d'Aquitaine), one of the principal architects of the city. By 1697 he had returned to Paris and was received (reçu) as a member of the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture in 1703 on presentation of a magisterial, over life-size bust of Jules Hardouin-Mansart.

A contemporary and presumably friend of Robert Le Lorrain, he was to receive many official commissions in Paris and for the royal residences. And he was also to show a marked gift for portraiture. He is remembered mainly for portrait busts in Coysevox's manner.

Despite his extremely long life, Jean-Louis did not enjoy an equally long career, for he had been prevented by blindness from working for some fifteen or so years before his death at the age of ninety. Already in 1728 he had asked for his son Jean-Baptiste to remain in Paris rather than take up the pensioner's post that was his in Rome. From that date onwards it is likely that Jean-Louis' work benefited from his son's assistance.