CAFFIÉRI, Jean-Jacques
(b. 1725, Paris, d. 1792, Paris)

Bust of Jean de Rotrou

Comédie-Française, Paris

One of Caffieri's finest busts is that of Jean Rotrou (1609-1650), a French poet and tragedian. Caffieri's particular brilliance lay in such animating of the faces of the past. In the case of the Rotrou bust he worked from a painted portrait. He himself had a special interest in collecting the likenesses of great artists, whether painted or carved or modelled, and was constantly offering the Académie engravings, marbles, and especially casts of, among others, Raphael, Rubens, Pietro da Cortona, Watteau, Bernini, and even Andrea del Sarto and Dürer.

All Caffiéri's sitters seem fully conscious of who they are, and his portraits of great people from the past are especially marked by this — seldom more impressively than in the Rotrou bust, with its boldly-handled hair, bare throat, and masterly sweep of cloak seeming to echo the sweeping moustaches.