Department of French & Italian

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Far less democratic in its choice of subjects than the painting of the time, seventeenth-century sculpture served mainly official goals. The starting point for the sculpture of the Louis XIV era is the work of Italian Gianlorenzo Bernini (1598-1680), called ‘le Bernin’ in French. Especially well-known for his embellishment of Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome, Bernini developed a fluid and ornate style typical of the Italian baroque. His imitators in France, among them Antoine Coysevox (1640-1720), Fran´┐Żois Girardon (1628-1715), Pierre Etienne Monnot (1657-1733) and Pierre Puget (1620-94), emulate the movement and detail of the Italian master. Nevertheless, French sculpture, with the exception of Puget, relies more on the preciseness of forms and soberness of themes and poses than the dramatic character of Italian sculpture.

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Bernini: Bust of Cardinal Richelieu, 1640-41. How do the subtlety and detail of the sculpture stand out despite the apparent simplicity of the work? Compare and contrast this bust with the “Triple Portrait” by Champaigne on the previous page. In what ways do they reflect the power of the Cardinal? In general, how do the sculpture and the painting differ in their presentation and in the reactions they evoke?

tags: sculpture, Richelieu, Bernini, 1640-1649
Girardon: Apollo and the Nymphs, gardens of Versailles, c. 1670. What are the nymphs doing? What is the symbolism with respect to the king? Why emphasize the king’s sensual character? Compare and contrast this sculpture with the Werner painting of Apollo.

tags: sculpture, mythology, Girardon, Versailles, 1670-1679
Bernini: Scale model of a statue of Louis XIV on horseback, 1670. Why select this particular image of the king? How is he dressed? What is he holding in his hands? What historic references is Bernini making? What does the horse symbolize? What story does the model tell?

tags: sculpture, Louis XIV, Bernini, 1670-1679
Bernini: Bust of Louis XIV (reproduction). What do the pose and expression of the king represent? How does Bernini suggest the king’s youth and energy? What neoclassical and baroque elements does the sculpture have?

tags: sculpture, Louis XIV, Bernini, 1660-1669
Coysevox : Bust of Louis XIV, c. 1690. What similarities and differences do you see between this bust and the previous one? What details does Coysevox accentuate? Why? The king is obviously older here than in previous examples. How does Coysevox show the “aging” of the king by depicting a sense of movement?

tags: sculpture, Coysevox, Louis XIV, 1690-1699
Girardon: Allegorical figure, 1672-75. What kind of image do we see in this sculpture? Contrast this image with that of “Apollo and the Nymphs,” also by Girardon. What do these two images suggest about the feminine condition? In your opinion, where would you see such an image? For what purpose?

tags: sculpture, Girardon, allegory, 1670-1679
Monnot: Andromeda and the sea monster, 1700-04. Research the myth of Andromeda and Perseus. What aspect of the myth does the sculpture represent? Do you see a larger allegory with respect to society? Is Monnot making a social commentary? How do neoclassical and baroque elements come together in this work?

tags: sculpture, Monnot, mythology, 1700-1709
Puget: Hercules at rest, 1661. With respect to Louis XIV, what is the connection between the date of this statue and the depiction of a Hercules “at rest?” How is masculinity portrayed? Does the “Hercules” of Puget distinguish itself from the “Apollo” of Girardon?

tags: sculpture, Puget, mythology, 1660-1669
Puget: Hercules in the tunic of Nessos, 1676-81. Research the hostility between Hercules and Nessos. In your opinion, what is the symbolic function of Hercules, of Nessos, and of the tunic in terms of politics? What contrasts do you see between the Le Brun paintings of Hercules and Puget’s sculpture? With respect to the last sculpture, what explains the change in Hercules’ portrait? In terms of technique, how does Puget take advantage of the geometry of the body to show suffering?

tags: sculpture, Puget, mythology, 1670-1679
Puget: Milo of Crotone, 1671-83. Comment on the interaction between different parts of the body with respect to pain and how it affects the composition of the work. How does Puget create a sense of imbalance in the statue? How is the relationship between nature and humanity depicted? Symbolically, can we say that the work represents an attack on perfection? Explain.

tags: sculpture, Puget, humanity/nature, 1670-1679


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