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

Voltaire Seated

1781
Terra-cotta, height 120 cm
Musée Fabre, Montpellier

The statue of Voltaire - with the Diana, one of Houdon's finest works - was executed at the request of Madame Denis, Voltaire's niece, who gave one marble version to the Comédie Française. A second marble copy was commissioned from the artist by Catherine II. The work in the Montpellier museum is a terra-cotta cast done after the original plaster model and touched up by Houdon. The sarcastic smile and sharp sparkling eyes animate the features of the old philosopher of Ferney, whom the sculptor was able to study when Voltaire visited Paris in 1778.




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