Pierre Puget


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(b Marseilles, 16 Oct. 1620; d Marseilles, 2 Dec. 1694).

The greatest French sculptor of the 17th century. He worked mainly in his native Marseilles and in Toulon, for although he sought success at court, his work was much too impassioned to fit into the scheme of Le Brun's artistic dictatorship. Moreover, he was arrogant and headstrong in temperament and fell victim to the intrigues of fellow artists. His Baroque style was formed in Italy, where he worked from about 1638 to 1643; for part of this time he is said to have been an assistant to Pietro da Cortona in Florence and Rome, presumably as a stuccoist. Subsequently he made several visits to Genoa, where he established a considerable reputation. His first major work was a pair of atlas figures for the entrance to Toulon Town Hall (1656) and in these (now in the Musée Naval) he showed the physical vigour and emotional intensity that were the hallmarks of his style. These characteristics occur most memorably in his celebrated Milo of Crotona (1671–82, Louvre, Paris), which was one of his few works accepted for the palace at Versailles. Puget spent his final years embittered by his failures. He worked as a painter, architect, and decorator of ships as well as a sculptor, and he was an outstanding draughtsman. His son François (1651–1707) was a painter, likewise working mainly in Marseilles and Toulon. He did a few religious works but was principally a portraitist; his sitters included his father (Louvre).

Subjects: Art.

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