(b. ca. 1500, Saint-Mihiel, d. 1567, Genève)


French sculptor, part of a family of sculptors. In 1530, while still resident in Saint-Mihiel, Ligier was granted exemption from taxes and paid for an unspecified task by the provostship of Koeur. In 1533, established at Saint-Nicolas-du-Port, he executed terracotta portraits of the Duc de Lorraine and members of his entourage (all lost). By the end of the year he had returned to Saint-Mihiel. In 1543 he became one of the four syndics of the town, and in 1550 he appears on the list of burghers released from guard duty at the town gates on payment of a fee.

On the occasion of the visit of Charles III, Duc de Lorraine, to Saint-Mihiel in 1559, Ligier collaborated with his son Gérard Richier (1534-before 1603) on the decoration for the city. About 1560 the two artists signed a petition to the Duc to be allowed to practise the reformed religion without hindrance. Later Ligier left Lorraine in a hurry, however, fleeing to avoid religious persecution. He is next recorded in Geneva, but he does not seem to have been active as an artist. The partition of his estate took place in 1567.

Among the works that can be definitely attributed to Ligier are the Swooning Virgin Supported by St John (church of St Michel, Saint-Mihiel) and the Head of Christ (Paris, Louvre), which both date to before 1532 and which formed part of a group of five figures formerly in the Benedictine abbey church of Saint-Mihiel. His most famous work, the Easter Sepulchre (stone, 1554–64) in the church of St Etienne in Saint-Mihiel, was originally an arrangement of 13 over life-size figures.

In Richier's purely religious sculpture the principal themes are the Crucifixion and the Deposition. His extremely individual treatment of the eyelids, bordered with a sort of fold in the skin, can be seen as the artist’s trademark. The tension and the dynamism that animate some of his figures, and the academic approach that marks others, contribute to make Ligier an artist of profound originality. He always remained outside official circles, and in his own time his reputation never spread beyond his native Lorraine.