FALCONET, Étienne-Maurice
(b. 1716, Paris, d. 1791, Paris)

Milo of Croton

1754
Marble, height 66 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris

Falconet's discovery of the Puget's Milo of Croton, then slowly losing its surface in the open air at Versailles, led to a piece of homage so direct in subject-matter as to be stigmatised for supposed plagiarism, the plaster model of Milo of Croton which marked his first Salon appearance in 1745.

Milo is seen pinned to the ground in a pose that goes back to Titian's Prometheus in the Prado but here is more untidily interpreted - with the desperately flailing leg and mouth expanded in a howl of horror. Falconet is concerned with the encounter of beast and man; the two heads are juxtaposed on the same level, mirroring ferocity and suffering. The head of Milo is particularly personal, being a portrait of the sculptor himself. Milo's reversed pose emphasizes the drama of the moment, and this is further enhanced by the splendidly fierce lion, with its shaggy body seen from the back. The opposing forces are balanced, momentarily, on the uneven rocks; a tension is held between them which looks back to Rubens and forward to Delacroix.

You can view other depictions of Milo of Croton in the Web Gallery of Art.