François Duquesnoy


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(bapt. Brussels, 12 Jan. 1597; d Livorno [Leghorn], 19 July 1643).

Flemish sculptor, active mainly in Rome. He settled there in 1618 and with Algardi became the outstanding sculptor in the city apart from the great Bernini. In 1627–8 he worked for Bernini on the decoration of the baldacchino in St Peter's, but his style—like Algardi's—was much more restrained and less Baroque than the master's. He was indeed a leading figure in circles devoted to classical art (initially he earned his living mainly by restoring antique sculpture and he shared a house for a time with his friend Poussin). Duquesnoy produced only two major public works—the marble statues of St Susanna (S. Maria di Loreto, 1629–33) and St Andrew (St Peter's, 1629–40)—but his fame was spread by numerous smaller works: reliefs and statuettes of mythological and religious subjects in bronze, ivory, terracotta, and wax. He was particularly renowned for his handling of putti, and it is curious that someone who so unaffectedly depicted the beauty and charm of children was depressive and perhaps mentally unstable: his biographer Passeri wrote that he was ‘so hesitant and careful in every particular that he wore out his life in irresolution’, and the diarist John Evelyn, visiting Rome in 1644, said that he ‘died mad’ because his St Andrew ‘was placed in a bad light’ (he had died the previous year on his way to Paris to work for Louis XIII). Duquesnoy's father and brother were sculptors: Jérôme I (c.1570–1641/2) and Jérôme II (1602–54). His father is remembered mainly for the famous Manneken-pis fountain (1619) behind the town hall in Brussels, showing a boy urinating. His brother worked with François in Rome and took a somewhat diluted Baroque style back to Brussels with him. The tomb of Bishop Anton Trest in Ghent Cathedral (1651–4) is considered his finest work. He moved to Ghent to complete this, but soon after his arrival he was accused of committing sodomy in the cathedral with his pupils and was executed.

Subjects: Art.

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