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Jean-Antoine Houdon: Sculptor of the Enlightenment

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | Jean-Antoine Houdon: Sculptor of the Enlightenment.pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    Anne L. Poulet(Author)

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Jean-Antoine Houdon (1741-1826) has long been recognized as the greatest European portrait sculptor of the late eighteenth century, flourishing during both the American and French Revolutions as well as during the Directoire and Empire in France. Whether sculpting a head of state, an intellectual, or a young child, Houdon had an uncanny ability to capture the essence of his subject with a characteristic pose or expression. Yet until now, Houdon's exquisite sculptures have never been the subject of a major exhibition.

This lavish exhibition catalogue, now available in paperback, is the definitive work on Houdon. With more than one hundred color plates and two hundred black and white halftones, Jean-Antoine Houdon: Sculptor of the Enlightenment illustrates every stage of the sculptor's fascinating career, from his early portrayals of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette to his stunning portraits of American patriots such as George Washington, the Marquis de Lafayette, John Paul Jones, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson. Indeed the images we hold dear of legendary Enlightenment figures like Diderot, Rousseau, d'Alembert, and Voltaire are based on works by Houdon. More than mere representations, these sculptures provide us fascinating, intimate glimpses into the very core of who these figures were. Houdon's genius animated even his less illustrious subjects, like his portraits of his family and friends, and filled his sculptures of children with delicacy and freshness. Accompanying the images of Houdon's masterworks are four insightful essays that discuss Houdon's views on art (based in part on a newly discovered manuscript written by the artist) as well as his prominence in the highly varied cultures of eighteenth-century France, Germany, and Russia.

From aristocrats to revolutionaries, actors to philosophers, Houdon's amazingly vivid portraits constitute the visual record of the Enlightenment and capture the true spirit of a remarkable age. Jean-Antoine Houdon finally gives these gorgeous works their due.

"The catalog contains important new documentary information, and the entries cast clear light on both the works exhibited as well as related versions throughout the world. The show is an extraordinary achievement; it makes a contribution of permanent value to the study of a very great artist." - Andrew Butterfield, New York Review of Books; "The essays detail Houdon's artistic development and provide insights into his working methods and his relationships with his subjects, a group that included Moliere, Diderot, Voltaire, Franklin, and Napoleon. In 1783, a critic said of Houdon's portrait busts of contemporary celebrities: 'M. Houdon lacks only the means to make his portraits speak, since, as for likeness, he lacks nothing.'" - New York Times Book Review; "It's often said that there's no such thing as a perfect exhibition.... But it must be said that if there is one, this is it. Poulet has obtained just about every significant Houdon sculpture extant, winnowing the selection carefully to secure the version closest to the artist's hand and eliminating lesser ones, pirated casts, and outright fakes. The catalog is a feat of comprehensive and scrupulous research as well as an enthralling exercise in connoisseurship. Taken together, they give us the definitive portrait of Houdon - a speaking likeness, as it were." - Eric Gibson, New Criterion" Jean-Antoine Houdon (1741-1826) has long been recognized as the greatest European portrait sculptor of the late eighteenth century, flourishing during both the American and French Revolutions as well as during the Directoire and Empire in France. Whether sculpting a head of state, an intellectual, or a young child, Houdon had an uncanny ability to capture the essence of his subject with a characteristic pose or expression. Yet until now, Houdon's exquisite sculptures have never been the subject of a major exhibition.This lavish exhibition catalogue will immediately take its rightful place as the definitive work on Houdon. With more than one hundred color plates and two hundred black and white halftones, Jean-Antoine Houdon: Sculptor of the Enlightenment illustrates every stage of the sculptor's fascinating career, from his early portrayals of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette to his stunning portraits of American patriots such as George Washington, the Marquis de Lafayette, John Paul Jones, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson. Indeed the images we hold dear of legendary Enlightenment figures like Diderot, Rousseau, d'Alembert, and Voltaire are based on works by Houdon. More than mere representations, these sculptures provide us fascinating, intimate glimpses into the very core of who these figures were. Houdon's genius animated even his less illustrious subjects, like his portraits of his family and friends, and filled his sculptures of children with delicacy and freshness. Accompanying the images of Houdon's masterworks are four insightful essays that discuss Houdon's views on art (based in part on a newly discovered manuscript written by the artist) as well as his prominence in the highly varied cultures of eighteenth-century France, Germany, and Russia.From aristocrats to revolutionaries, actors to philosophers, Houdon's amazingly vivid portraits constitute the visual record of the Enlightenment and capture the true spirit of a remarkable age. Jean-Antoine Houdon finally gives these gorgeous works their due.

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Book details

  • PDF | 400 pages
  • Anne L. Poulet(Author)
  • University Of Chicago Press; New edition edition (June 1, 2005)
  • English
  • 3
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Review Text

  • By nishal hindori on September 1, 2015

    This book is wonderfully written with numerous refrences qnd quotes"At dawn, my neighbour and friend houdon came to get me to go to saint louis des français where M. Seguier proffesor of surgery gave us lesson in anatomy on cadavers for which the king paid. We were the only people from the academy to follow this course and proffited all the more from it" johan christian von mannlich"I submitted my work to the emperor yesterday. He did me the great kindness of chatting with me about the difficulties of sculpture, lacking the charm and color, presented for resemblance; i said that marble by virtue of its transparency and its pleasant appearance, removed part of those difficulties and i expressed my wish to execute the busts of their majesties in that material..." houdon recalls posing session with napoleon and josephineThat being said its perfect for a scholar or artlover and beautifully photographed!but i would have liked to see the pictures designed for sculptors. With not only frontal photos but also profile top and bottom pictures not full page size ofcourse but passport picture [email protected]_sculptures

  • By Patrick C Choate on May 30, 2014

    I found this book to be delightful. It is beautifully photographed and the telling of the subjects story and how Houdon came to capture their image is amazing. So, what did Robert Fulton look like? John Paul Jones and Lafayette, Voltaire, Washington and Ben Franklin, Josephine and Napoleon! They are all here to look at, and admire, just as they really were and there are little tidbits of information that you will never know unless you have this book. Great for artists and historians alike. A real treasure!

  • By George Agun on September 3, 2016

    Remarkable sculpture, inspirational

  • By Theo. Fox on November 10, 2015

    A decent book about one of the great sculptors of the era.

  • By A customer on September 11, 2003

    I saw the Houdon exhibition at the National Gallery in Washington, DC, and it is astonishing--as is this gorgeous catalogue. Houdon's brilliance as a portraitist and psychologist shines through in his amazingly lifelike busts of Benjamin Franklin, Robert Fulton, Thomas Jefferson, Catherine the Great, Voltaire and many more. In fact, the book offers a veritable Who's Who-or Who was Anybody--in the second half of the eighteenth century. Rogues and nobility alike brought miraculously to life in stone. This volume is a must for anyone interested in French, European or American art and culture of the revolutionary period. Lavishly illustrated, it promises to be the definitive work on Houdon for many years to come.

  • By Dr. Michael J. Storek on December 27, 2015

    All the people he depicted lived before the age of photography; and without his beautiful sculptures, we would have no clue how did all the smart people like Jefferson, Franklin, Rousseau, Lafayette etc looked like in 3D :-). I recall that Maurice Quentin de LaTour was called "thief of spirits" because of his amazing paintings; the same sobriquet applies probably even more to Houdon.


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