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Edme Bouchardon

Sculptor, draughtsman and architect

Born
1698 in Chaumont (Haute-Marne)
Died
1762 in Paris

12 Works by Edme Bouchardon

Biography

In the history of eighteenth-century French art, Bouchardon occupies a place that is not stylistically, but in its independence, comparable to that of Greuze. He was both overrated and feared by his contemporaries. Connoisseurs like P. J. Mariette and the Comte de Caylus enthusiastically championed Bouchardon, for in his sculpture and drawings he was one of the first to return to a style of classical proportions as a counterpart to the art of the Régence and the Rococo. Trained as the son of a provincial but respected sculptor in Burgundy, at the age of twenty Bouchardon found his way to Paris. After brief further training under Guillaume Coustou, as early as 1722 he attained the first step in a public career with the Rome Prize from the Academy, followed by the years 1723 to 1732 in Rome. In addition to the obligatory copies modelled after classical sculptures, numerous surviving studies show that there Bouchardon engaged with artists of the most varied styles - Michelangelo, Bernini and Algardi, for example - before finally joining the camp of classical views (proof: the Stosch portrait bust, 1727, Berlin). After his return to Paris he worked for the court, the city, and for private patrons. In 1733 Bouchardon was given the first major commission for stone sculptures of saints in the Church of St Sulpice; with L. S. Adam and J. B. Le Moyne he worked from 1735 to 1739 on the Bassin de Neptune at Versailles; beginning in 1739 he created the fountain in the Rue de Grenelle. These were followed by the unrealised tomb monument for Cardinal de Fleury in 1743 and by the statue of Amor carving his bow out of the cudgel of Hercules (Louvre), one of his characteristic works, from around 1750. A high point was the commission for the large equestrian statue of Louis XV, based on the classical statue of Marcus Aurelius, placed on the present Place de la Concorde in 1749 but destroyed during the Revolution. As for the hierarchy of his public offices, Bouchardon became the official draughtsman of the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres in 1736, was admitted to the Academy in 1745 and was named professor in 1746. Corresponding to the type and scope of his assignments, and also to the thoroughness of his nature, Bouchardon left behind an extraordinary oeuvre of drawings. They are mainly done in red chalk; their severity, bordering on monotony, quite deliberately sets itself apart from the sensuous aesthetic of his contemporaries, for example F. Boucher. Bouchardon combines an almost scientific meticulousness with classical stylisation; in his workmanship, an unmistakable verism coexists with an ultimately dominant ideality.

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