ADAM, Nicolas-Sébastien
(b. 1705, Nancy, d. 1778, Paris)


Marble, height 115 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris

Works of minutely detailed character (fashionable in the Rococo period) became veritable 'tours de force' when the sculptor combined the almost excessive preoccupation with details with an endeavour to keep up the 'grand manner' on a reduced scale. Nicolas-Sébastien Adam spent two decades working on the presentation piece he submitted to the Royal Academy in 1762. Yet there is not a trace of weariness in his masterpiece. It has a wonderful verve, yet it is also wonderfully delicate, this miniature Prometheus on his rock having his liver devoured by a vulture. The treatment of the details, even peripheral ones like the torch smoking on the ground, is superb. There is no question that academic statuettes of this type were influential.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 17 minutes):
Karl Goldmark: Prometheus Bound, overture op.38