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Work Jules Hardouin-Mansart (1646-1708), architect, superintendent of the king's buildings, patron of the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture

Department of Sculptures: France, 17th and 18th centuries

Jules Hardouin-Mansart (1645 - 1708)

© 2009 Musée du Louvre / Pierre Philibert

Sculptures
France, 17th and 18th centuries

Author(s):
Montalbetti Valérie

This imposing bust is one of the few portraits presented as reception pieces for the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture. Jean-Louis Lemoyne demonstrated his extraordinary skill with marble in this representation of the architect of Versailles and Les Invalides, in all his splendor at the apex of his career.

The rarity of portraits as reception pieces

This colossal bust is the reception piece for the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture that was presented on 30 June 1703 by Jean-Louis Lemoyne, father of Jean-Baptiste II Lemoyne (the model was approved on 29 December 1699). The Academy rarely required portraits as admission pieces. In 1679, Antoine Coysevox, Lemoyne's master, had presented a bust as an admission piece: a portrait (in the Louvre) of Lebrun who, like Mansart, was a patron of the Academy. The only other bust presented as an admission piece during the 18th century was that of Louis XV (at the Château de Versailles) made by Etienne Gois in 1770.

The glory of Jules Hardouin-Mansart

Mansart was the architect of splendors such as Versailles, the Grand Trianon, the Château de Marly, and Les Invalides. As superintendent of the king's buildings and patron of the Academy, he was at the height of his career when Lemoyne portrayed him in all his magnificence, in a tribute to the man as a great figure rather than an architect. The bust has a lordly bearing: a powerful head, haughty expression, strong nose, and smiling but disdainful mouth. The virtuoso rendering of the tall curly wig and finely chiseled lace jabot is a veritable tour de force that accentuates the majesty of the figure. Mansart is wearing the cross of the Order of St. Michael - a consecration for an artist.

The bust

The sculptor clearly sought to rival his master Coysevox, who had made a bust of the same model in 1698 (Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève, Paris); but he was particularly inspired by Coysevox's bust of Louis XIV (in the Wallace Collection). Lemoyne's work met with great acclaim; it was cast in bronze the following year (at the model's expense) and exhibited at the Salon of 1704.

Bibliography

Réau Louis, Une dynastie de sculpteurs au XVIIIe siècle : les Lemoyne, Paris, 1927, p. 23.
Beyer Victor et Bresc Geneviève, La Sculpture française du XVIIe siècle au musée du Louvre, Bergame, 1977, n.p.

Technical description

  • Jean-Louis LEMOYNE (Paris, 1665 - 1755)

    Jules Hardouin-Mansart (1645 - 1708)

  • Marbre

    H. : 1,10 m. ; L. : 0,86 m. ; Pr. : 0,38 m.

  • Collections de l'Académie royale

    M.R. 2640

  • Sculptures

    Richelieu wing
    Ground floor
    Girardon Crypt
    Room 20

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Additional information about the work

On the back, on the edge: I. HARDOVIN MANSART COM. SAC/S REG AED PR. 1703Under the shoulder, on the left: I LO LEMOYNE FECIT