HOUDON, Jean-Antoine
(b. 1741, Versailles, d. 1828, Paris)


c. 1776
Museu Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon

Houdon received his earliest training in apprenticeship to Michelangelo Slodtz; he then went to the École des Élèves Protégés in Paris, before spending four years in Rome. The idea for a statue of Diana leaving for the hunt was conceived in 1776. The marble original intended for the gardens of the Duke of Saxe-Gotha was handed down to Catherine II; from the Hermitage it passed into the Gulbenkian collection in Lisbon. In the bronze version in the Louvre, the tuft of rushes used as a support for the marble statue could be eliminated, enabling Houdon to accentuate the lightness of the figure, which is entirely classical in inspiration.

This statue illustrates the French conception of the smooth and elegant nude, which derives from the School of Fontainebleau.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 19 minutes):
Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Variations on a Rococo Theme