OPSTAL, Gerard van
(b. 1594, Brussel, d. 1668, Paris)


Flemish sculptor. There is some uncertainty about his birth date and place: he was either born in Brussels in 1594, or in Antwerp in 1604. Opstal trained in Brussels and Antwerp, then moved to Paris around 1642 on the invitation of Cardinal Richelieu. He contributed to many of the new architectural structures built for the king and members of the court. In 1651 was give the title of "Sculpteur des Bâtiments du Roi" (Sculptor of the King's Buildings).

He specialized in the low-relief friezes of classical mythological subjects such as tritons, nereids, and centaurs that decorated the many palaces and "hôtels particuliers" in and around Paris. Members of the court also prized his ivory reliefs, carved in a dramatic, fluid style inspired by Peter Paul Rubens. In 1648 Van Opstal helped found the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture in Paris. He was repeatedly elected rector of the Academy, a post he held at the time of his death in 1668.