(b. 1640, Lyon, d. 1720, Paris)

Robert de Cotte

Bibliothèque Ste Geneviève, Paris

It is in the busts of the later years that the real novelty of Coysevox's style lies. For those of the King and the great dignitaries of the Court Coysevox continued to use the formula which he had evolved as early as 1686. But when he came to portray his personal friends he dropped all formality and swagger and replaced them by penetration of character and naturalism of rendering. The bust of Robert de Cotte is both more vivid and more intimate than any earlier French sculpture. The bust has been reduced so that there is nothing to distract the eye from the head itself, which is shown in the action of turning sharply round as if the sitters attention had suddenly been attracted to his right. This seizing of the characteristic movement is supplemented by a minute observation in the rendering of the features, which again convey with great vividness the character of the sitter. In its freshness and spontaneity this bust seems to foreshadow the work of Houdon.