Jean-Baptiste Pigalle


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(b Paris, 26 Jan. 1714; d Paris, 21 Aug. 1785).

French sculptor. He studied under J.-B. Lemoyne and then in Rome (1736–40). In his early career he endured poverty and sickness (his studies in Rome were made at his own expense and he walked there from Paris), but after he was received into the Académie Royale in 1744 with his rapturously acclaimed Mercury (Louvre, Paris; terracotta model in the Met. Mus., New York), he rapidly went on to become one of the leading French sculptors of his period (in terms of worldly success he probably outdid all his contemporaries). He was a superb craftsman and highly versatile and inventive, equally adept at small genre pieces and the most grandiloquent tomb sculpture. As a portraitist he was noted for his warmth and vivacity. His most famous works are the startling nude figure of Voltaire (1770–6, Louvre) and the spectacular and majestic tomb of Maurice of Saxony (designed 1753) in St Thomas, Strasbourg.

Subjects: Art.

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