PIGALLE, Jean-Baptiste
(b. 1714, Paris, d. 1785, Paris)

Thomas-Aignan Desfriches

Musée des Beaux-Arts, Orléans

Pigalle is best known by his large-scale monuments. Yet he also found time to execute some busts, chiefly of writers and doctors - significantly not courtiers but people who had thought and worked, and who often were his friends. These busts seem the result of profound sympathies: personalities that had stirred Pigalle by some affinity with his own. There is never any virtuoso display, either in the costume or the sculptor's treatment of it; the neck and shoulders are treated with sobriety and the face too is sober, unsmiling, usually somewhat tense. The terracotta Desfriches is probably the most outstanding achievement in its simplicity and worried lifelikeness. The physiognomy of this amateur, friend of Pigalle and Cochin, has a resemblance to Pigalle's own; it gives the same sense too of life's pressure upon the features, and all the working of the clay expresses the tensions which have gone to shape the exposed flesh, marked by lines about the mouth and heavy-lidded eyes.