SLODTZ, René-Michel
(b. 1705, Paris, d. 1764, Paris)


French sculptor (also called Michel-Ange Slodtz), member of a family of sculptors, designers, and decorators. He was the son of Sébastien Slodtz (1655-1726), who was Flemish by birth. In 1724 and 1726 he won second place in the Prix de Rome competitions but nevertheless was sent to study at the Académie de France in Rome in 1728; he soon attracted the attention of the director Nicolas Vleughels, of whom he carved a lively bust (marble, 1736, Jacquemart-André, Paris) and whose tomb he later made (marble, after 1737, S Luigi dei Francesi, Rome). One of his tasks as a student was to carve a marble copy (1731-36) of Michelangelo's Christ in S Maria sopra Minerva, which earned him his nickname. He stayed at the Académie until 1736, considerably longer than was usual, but eventually set up his own studio in Rome, and he quickly became one of the most important sculptors in the city. He was in Rome from 1728 to 1747.

Among his commissions from French patrons are busts of Chryses and Iphigeneia (c. 1737, both marble, Lyon, Académie des Sciences), the group Diana and Endymion (1735-40; private collection) and a portrait bust of the Duc de Harcourt (1736; private collection); those from Roman clients include a bust of Cardinal Corsini (marble, 1737, Palazzo Corsini, Rome) and a bas-relief of the Ecstasy of St Theresa (marble, 1738, S Maria della Scala, Rome). However, his best-known work is St Bruno (1744, St Peter's, Rome), which shows the nervous sensitivity of his style.

Such works, which are vigorous yet elegant and of superb craftsmanship in the working of the marble, reveal the influence of Bernini and Roman Baroque sculpture but are tempered by a characteristically French sense of artistic decorum.

In France he made several major tombs, notably that of Languet de Gergy (completed 1753, S. Sulpice, Paris) which also shows the influence of Bernini in its Baroque rhetoric and use of different coloured marbles.

Houdon was Slodtz's most important pupil.