JULIEN, Pierre
(b. 1731, Saint-Paulien, d. 1804, Paris)

Amalthaea (Girl Tending a Goat)

Marble, height 172 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris

Julien was born in provincial obscurity in the small town of Saint-Paulien in the environs of Le Puy. There he is said to have been employed as a boy watching flocks, and that certainly provides a background for the sculptor of the Amalthaea represented as a Girl Tending a Goat, although she has long been removed from any rustic reality.

The nymph is holding on a tether the goat that nursed the infant Jupiter, but her thought do not seem to be with her task. This group, a version of the motif of the Beauty and the Beast, was originally part of the decoration for the dairy at Rambouillet, which Julien sculpted for Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette on the eve of the French Revolution. It is stamped with a spirit of insouciance that hardly seems tragic, for what this appealing young girl expresses above all is the charm and pseudo-rustic whimsicalness of the 'ancien régime'.