François Girardon

François Girardon (10 March 1628 – 1 September 1715) was a French sculptor of the Style Louis XIV or French Baroque, best known for his statues and busts of Louis XIV and for his statuary in the gardens of the Palace of Versailles.

François Girardon
Girardon par Rigaud
François Girardon by Hyacinthe Rigaud
BornMarch 10, 1628
DiedSeptember 1, 1715
Known forSculpture
MovementBaroque or Style Louis XIV


He was born at Troyes. His father was a foundry worker. He was first trained as a joiner and woodcarver. His talent attracted the attention of the Chancelor of Louis XIV, Pierre Séguier, a serious patron of the arts, who arranged for him to work in the studio of François Anguier, and later, from 1648 to 1650 to live and apprentice in Rome. [1] There he saw Baroque sculpture and met Bernini, but he came to reject that style and moved instead toward classicism and the models of ancient Roman sculpture.[2]

In 1650 he returned to France, and became a member of the group of artists, led by Charles Le Brun, the official painter of the King, and including the garden designer André Le Nôtre, who were commissioned to decorate the new royal park of the Chateau of Versailles. His principal contribution was the group of statuary representing Apollo served by the Nymphs, (1666-1675), symbolizing the Sun King himself, placed in a grotto close to the Palace. The figure of Apollo was inspired in form by the Apollo Belvedere of the Vatican, and featured two groups of figures; Apollo surrounded by nymphs, and a second group, next to the grotto, showing The Horses of the Sun being conducted to their royal stable. [3]

He created another fountain for Versailles, the Basin of Saturn or Winter (1672-1677), made of gilded lead, composed in a more baroque style, crowded with figures. His third major work at Versailles was the Kidnapping of Proserpine. This group of statues was located away from the center of the garden, and was designed to seen from a single point of view. The sense of movement and twisted figures give it a Baroque appearance, but this is balanced by the classical clarity and symmetry of the composition.[4]

Girardon rose steadily in the official artistic hierarchy. He became a member of the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture in 1657, was raised to professor, in 1674 assistant to the Rector. In 1690, on the death of Le Brun, he became inspector general of works of sculpture, governing all royal sculptural commissions. In 1695, he became Chancellor of the Royal Academy. [5]

In 1675 he received another important commission, for the tomb of Cardinal Richelieu, located in the Chapel of the Sorbonne. It was completed in 1694. The figure of the Cardinal is shown seated on the tomb but alive, sitting up and looking toward the altar. (The tomb was originally placed in the choir of the church, but has since been moved to a separate chapel). He is accompanied by figures of two grieving women representing Religion and science. The tomb was completed in 1694, and had considerable influence on the design of later funeral sculpture.[4] It was nearly destroyed by a mob during the French Revolution, but was protected by the archeologist Alexandre Lenoir, who received a bayonet wound in its defense. He had it moved to safety in the first museum of French monuments. [6]

In 1699, Girardon completed another major work, a bronze equestrian statue of Louis XIV, which was placed in the center in the center of Place Louis le Grand (now Place Vendôme). This statue was melted down during the French Revolution and is now known only by a small bronze model made by Girardon himself, in the Louvre, He died in Psris in 1715. [7]

Other notable work of Girandon that can still be seen include Tomb of Louvois in the Church of (St-Eustache) in Paris; the tomb of Bignon, the King's librarian, made in 1656, in (St-Nicolas du Chardonnet); and decorative sculptures in the Gallery of Apollo and the King's Bedroom in the Louvre.

The municipal museum of his birthplace of Troyes has several of his works, marble busts of Louis XIV and Maria Theresa. The Town Hall displays a medallion of Louis XIV, and the Church of Saint Remy displays a bronze crucifix he made.


Apollon et 5 nymphes, Bosquet des bains d'Apollon, Versailles (retouché et coupé)

Apollo being served by the nymphs, Grotto of the grove of the baths of Apollo, Palace of Versailles (1666-1675)

François Girardon, Bassin de Saturne, Musée national des chateaux de Versailles et de Trianon, Versailles, France (1672–1677) - 01

Basin of Saturn, Palace of Versailles (1672-1677)

Girardon Rapto de Proserpina. 02

The kidnapping of Proserpina by Pluto (1677-1699), Palace of Versailles

Girardon Rapto de Proserpina. 03

Scuulpture on the base of The Kidnapping of Proserpina by Pluto

Louis XIV statue Girardon gravure

Monument to Louis XIV in Place Vendôme (1692], destroyed 1789-92

Louis XIV statue equestre

François Girardon, model of statue of Louis XIV for Place Vendôme 1692, Louvre

Simonneau Charles-Tombeau du cardinal de Richelieu

The tomb of Cardinal Richelieu, Chapel of Sorbonne (1675-1694)

Cardinal richelieu tomb statue sorbonne

Detail of the tomb of Cardinal Richelieu, Chapel of Sorbonne, (1675-1694)

Troyes - Musée Saint-Loup - Buste de Louis XIV par François Girardon 1

Bust of Louis XIV, Musée Saint-Loup, Troyes

Notes and citations

  1. ^ Chisholm, Hugh, François Girardon, Encyclopædia Britannica (1911)
  2. ^ Geese, p. 304.
  3. ^ Geese (2015) pg. 304-305.
  4. ^ a b Geese (2015) pg. 309.
  5. ^ Chisholm, Encyclopedia Britannica (1911)
  6. ^ Chisholm, Encyclopedia Britannica (1911)
  7. ^ Chisholm, Encyclopedia Britannica (1911)


  • Geese, Uwe, Section on Baroque sculpture in L'Art Baroque - Architecture - Sculpture - Peinture (French translation from German), H.F. Ulmann, Cologne, 2015. (ISBN 978-3-8480-0856-8)
  • Wikisource Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Girardon, François" . Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.

External links

  • François Girardon in American public collections, on the French Sculpture Census website Edit this at Wikidata
1628 in art

Events from the year 1628 in art.

1695 in art

Events from the year 1695 in art.

1715 in France

Events from the year 1715 in France

Equestrian Statue of King Louis XIV (Bernini)

The Equestrian Statue of King Louis XIV is a sculpture designed and partially executed by the Italian artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini, who was originally brought to France to design a new facade of the Louvre, a portrait bust, and an equestrian statue. Bernini first discussed the project while in France in the mid-1660s, but it did not start until later in the decade, when back in Rome. It was not completed until 1684, and then shipped to Paris in 1685. Louis XIV of France was extremely unhappy with the end result and had it placed in a corner of the gardens of the royal palace at Versailles. Soon after, the sculpture was modified by François Girardon and altered into an equestrian sculpture of the ancient Roman hero Marcus Curtius.

Gabriel Revel

Gabriel Revel (10 May 1643 - 9 July 1712) was a French painter.

Galerie d'Apollon

The Galerie d'Apollon is a part of the Louvre, famous for its high vaulted ceilings with painted decorations.

The room was originally called the 'Petite Galerie' of the Louvre and was decorated by the artists of the Second School of Fontainebleau, most notably Toussaint Dubreuil, Jacob Bunel and his wife Marguerite Bahuche according to designs by Martin Fréminet, for Henri IV of France.

After a fire in the small gallery destroyed much of it on 6 February 1661, it was necessary to rebuild this part of the Louvre. Architectural work was entrusted to Louis Le Vau, who carried out reconstruction activities between 1661 and 1663, while Charles Le Brun was assigned responsibility for decorations by Colbert. The sculptor François Girardon was responsible for the stucco sculptures. This was the first Royal Gallery for Louis XIV, which served as a model for the Hall of Mirrors of the Palace of Versailles.


Girardon is a French surname that may refer to

Catherine Duchemin (later Girardon, 1630–1698), French flower and fruit painter, wife of François Girardon

François Girardon (1628–1715), French sculptor

Michèle Girardon (1938–1975), French actress

Jean Joly (sculptor)

Jean Joly (April 16, 1650 – 1740) was a French sculptor.

Joly was a student of François Girardon. He attended the Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture where he won the Prix de Rome for the sculpture Fratricide de Cain in 1680. He stayed in Rome at the Villa Medici between 1680 and 1686. He collaborated with Nicolas Coustou and Antoine Coysevox. Joly made arches and capitals for Grand Trianon vases with flowers and various stone and metal for gardens at the Palace of Versailles.

Les Grandes Baigneuses (Renoir)

Les Grandes Baigneuses, or The Large Bathers, is a painting by Auguste Renoir made between 1884 and 1887. The painting is in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, in Philadelphia.The painting depicts a scene of nude women bathing. In the foreground, two women are seated beside the water, and a third is standing in the water near them. In the background, two others are bathing. The one standing in the water in the foreground appears to be about to splash one of the women seated on the shore with water. That woman leans back to avoid the expected splash of water.

The figures have a sculptural quality, while the landscape behind them shimmers with impressionistic light. With this new style, Renoir's intention was to reconcile the modern forms of painting with the painting traditions of the 17th and 18th centuries, particularly those of Ingres and Raphael. Renoir also admired Rubens and Titian's works, and he tried to find a compromise between the styles of these old masters and the new impressionist style.

List of artworks in the Frick Collection

This is an incomplete list of artworks in the Frick Collection in New York City, United States, which mainly holds European artworks from before the 20th century.

Musée des beaux-arts de Troyes

The Musée des beaux-arts de Troyes (officially known as the musée Saint-Loup) is one of the two main art and archaeology museums in Troyes, France - the other is the Musée d'art moderne de Troyes. From 1831 it has been housed in the former Abbey of Saint Loup.It displays paintings of the fourteenth to nineteenth centuries (with strength in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries), a strong representation of local medieval sculpture as well as busts of Louis XIV and Marie-Thérèse by the locally born sculptor François Girardon, and furniture and decorative arts, together with some locally recovered Roman antiquities, most notably the Treasure of Pouan, the grave goods of a fifth-century Germanic warrior, and the Apollo of Vaupoisson, a fine Gallo-Roman bronze.

Pierre Francastel

Pierre Francastel (8 June 1900 – 2 January 1970) was a French art historian, best known for his use of sociological method.

Francastel's initial period of study was in literature, at the Sorbonne. He worked in building conservation at Versailles while undertaking research toward his doctoral degree, which was on the sculpture of Versailles, and in 1928 he published a monograph, including a critical catalogue, on the seventeenth-century French sculptor François Girardon. In 1930, he was appointed director of the Warsaw Institut français, and in 1936 he was appointed professor at the University in Strasbourg. In 1948, he was created inaugural Professor of the Sociology of Art at the École pratique des hautes études in Paris.Francastel's research interests varied between the French seventeenth century and the nineteenth century, but his sociological methodology, strongly influenced by the work of Émile Durkheim, remained the intellectual basis upon which his scholarly thought and corpus were organised. Francastel is also noted for his promotion of spatial concerns, both physical and conceptual, prefiguring the "spatial turn" of later scholars such as Henri Lefebvre. Two of his key works, that emphasise Francastel's view of art as a system both embedded within and productive of social relations, are his Art et Sociologie (1948) and Peinture et Société (1951).

Pierre Granier

Pierre Granier (1655 — 1715) was a proficient but minor French sculptor, trained in the excellent atelier of François Girardon who produced a generation of highly competent sculptors for the Bâtiments du Roi. Granier served as a modest member of the extensive team that provided sculpture for the Château de Versailles and its gardens. Strict control over the subjects, scale, materials and to a great extent the design of sculpture for Versailles was exercised by the premier peintre du Roi, Charles Le Brun. According to Antoine-Nicolas Dézallier d'Argenville, Le Brun provided a wax model for Granier's marble group Ino and Melicertes, and a Shepherdess was sculpted after a sketch given by Le Brun.Born at Les Matelles near Montpellier, he was an official of the Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture, where he was received in 1686 and to whom he had presented his bust of Louis XIV.When the marble sculpture of a god discovered at Smyrna was offered to Louis XIV, Granier was commissioned in 1686 to provide a missing right arm, raised and brandishing a thunderbolt: the result was the so-called Jupiter de Smyrne, now conserved at the Louvre Museum.

Pierre Lepautre (1659–1744)

Pierre Lepautre (4 March 1659 – 22 January 1744) was a French sculptor, a member of a prolific family of artists in many media, who were active in the 17th and 18th centuries. He was born and died in Paris.

He won the Prix de Rome, for study at the French Academy in Rome, where he was a pensionnaire' from 1683 to 1701. While in Rome he sent back to France a number of sculptures demonstrating his skill, among which were the Faune au chevreau of 1685, which went to ornament the gardens at Château de Marly. Lepautre returned to Paris in 1701. His Atalante (1704) was also destined for Marly.

From 1705 to 1710, he was occupied with decorative bas-reliefs and sculptures for the royal chapel of Versailles, under the artistic supervision of Jules Hardouin-Mansart: his are the colossal statues of Saint Ambrose and Saint Gregory.A retable in the form of a monumental gateway in the église de Saint-Eustache, Paris, illustrates the assumption of Saint Agnes.

His completion of the over-lifesize group of Arria et Pœtus (finished 1695) after the design begun by Jean-Baptiste Théodon proceeded too slowly and Énée portant son père Anchise suivi d'Ascagne (signed and dated 1716), after François Girardon demonstrated his facility and fidelity as an executant. The sculpture of Aeneas carrying Anchises was begun in Rome, where Lepautre made numerous terracotta bozzetti for it. The sculpture gained renown for Lepautre: bronze reductions of it were made for collectors. The 19th-century classicizing sculptor David d'Angers had one of Lepautre's designs for it, which was given by his widow to the museum in his native city.Pierre Lepautre preferred to become a member of the modest artists' Académie de Saint-Luc, for which he held a lifetime post as Rector, rather than try for the more prestigious Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture.

René Frémin

René Frémin (1 October 1672 - 17 February 1744) was a French sculptor.

Frémin studied at the Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture (Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture), where he was a pupil of François Girardon and Antoine Coysevox. In 1694 he won the Prix de Rome for sculpture. He stayed in Rome from 1695 to 1699. Returning to France, he produced sculptures for the park of Rambouillet and the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles. He was also responsible for the decoration of the facade of the building housing La Samaritaine department store on the Pont Neuf in Paris.

From 1721 to 1738, Frémin worked in Madrid, where King Philip V of Spain commissioned the decoration of the Royal Palace of La Granja de San Ildefonso.

Sorbonne Chapel

The Chapel of Sainte Ursule de la Sorbonne, also known as the Sorbonne Chapel, is a Roman Catholic chapel located in the Sorbonne historical site, in Paris' Latin quarter. It was rebuilt in the XVII century by order of Cardinal Richelieu.

Sébastien Slodtz

Sébastien Slodtz (1655–1726) was a French sculptor, the father of a trio of brothers who helped shape official French sculpture between the Baroque and the Rococo. He was born at Antwerp and joined the Paris workshop of François Girardon, under whose direction he worked for the sculptural decor of Versailles and its gardens and for the Tuileries. Sébastien Slodtz was the outstanding sculptor to come out of Girardon's atelier (Souchal 1968). He held the post of Dessinateur de la Chambre et du Cabinet de Sa Majesté, a post that two of his sons filled after him.

Sébastien Slodtz is best known for his Aristaeus fettering Proteus, begun in 1688, installed in 1714 in the Bassin d'Apollon on the grand terrace at Versailles, where it remains. His other chief works were the Hannibal Barca counting the rings of the Roman knights killed at the Battle of Cannae (illustration) for the Allée du Roi, which was designed as a pendant for Nicolas Coustou's Julius Caesar and for which Girardon provided a terracotta maquette a statue of St Ambrose in the Dôme des Invalides, and a bas-relief Saint Louis sending missionaries to India. Other works were provided for the Château de Marly, such as the marble Vertumnus for the Cascade and sculptures for the Val-de-Grâce.

His sons, notably René-Michel Slodtz (1705–64) called Michelange, the only great sculptor among the Slodtz, according to François Souchal, but also his two brothers, who worked in partnership largely for the ephemeral royal and princely occasions overseen by the department of the Menus Plaisirs: the designer-decorator Sébastien-Antoine (1695–1754) and the sculptor Paul-Ambroise (1702–58), who was the only one of the three to be accepted in the Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture. Their lively, dashing drawings cannot be told apart, even by specialists.

Among the pupils of Sébastien Slodtz was Pierre de L’Estache.

Venus of Arles

The Venus of Arles is a 1.94-metre-high (6.4 ft) sculpture of Venus at the Musée du Louvre. It is in Hymettus marble and dates to the end of the 1st century BC.

It may be a copy of the Aphrodite of Thespiae by Praxiteles, ordered by the courtesan Phryne. In the 2nd century AD, Pausanias mentioned the existence at Thespiae in Boeotia (central Greece) of a group made up of Cupid, Phryne and Aphrodite. The Praxitelean style may be detected in the head's resemblance to that of the Cnidian Aphrodite, a work of Praxiteles known through copies. In a tentative attempt to reconstruct his career, the original Aphrodite of Thespiae would be a work from his youth (in the 360s BC), if we choose to believe that this partially draped female (frequently repeated in the Hellenistic era – the Venus de Milo, for example – is a prelude to the fully naked nude that was his c. 350 BC Cnidian Aphrodite.The Venus of Arles was discovered in several pieces at the Roman theatre at Arles. The sculptural program at Arles was executed in Italy, perhaps by Greek artisans. Venus was the divine ancestor of the gens Julia; Arles, which had backed Caesar when Massilia backed Pompey was rewarded in numerous ways. A semi-nude heroic statue of Augustus was the dominating figure in the sculptural program of the Arles theatre.The Venus was found in 1651, by workmen who were digging a well. The head appeared first, at a depth of six feet, which spurred further excavations. Later, after it had been given in 1681 to Louis XIV to decorate the Galerie des Glaces of Versailles, further excavations were made in the area of the theatre's scenae frons, but no further fragments were found. The statue was seized from the royal collection at the Revolution and has been at the Musée du Louvre ever since its inception. A copy is on display in the municipal building in Arles.

In his restoration of the sculpture, the royal sculptor François Girardon, to make the sculpture more definitely a Venus, added some attributes: the apple in the right hand – as won in the Judgement of Paris – and the mirror in the left. The discovery in 1911 of a cast made of the sculpture as it had first been restored only sufficiently to reassemble, before Girardon was commissioned to improve it, demonstrated the extent of Girardon's transformative restorations, which included refinishing the surfaces, slimming the figure in the process. That the result is as much Girardon as Greco-Roman keeps the sculpture in the storerooms of the Louvre. The head, though its broken edges do not directly join with the torso except for one point of contact, belongs with the body – an important point, since it is the only sculpture of this particular model that retains its head, and the head is Praxitelean, comparable to his Aphrodite of Cnidus. The bracelet on her left arm, however, is original, an identifying trait of the goddess as seen on the Cnidian Aphrodite.

Étienne Le Hongre

Étienne Le Hongre (7 May 1628 in Paris – 28 April 1690 in Paris) was a French sculptor, part of the team that worked for the Bâtiments du Roi at Versailles. Le Hongre was one of the first generation of sculptors formed by the precepts of the Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture. At the Bain des Nymphes (1678–80) he was one of the sculptors providing lead bas-reliefs for the fountain setting that featured the work of François Girardon. Le Hongre provided other bronze figures for the Parterre d'Eau (illustration, right).

Le Hongre was born in Paris, the son of a menuisier, a carver of furniture and boiseries. He trained in the atelier of Jacques Sarrazin along with Gaspard and Balthazar Marsy and Pierre Le Gros the Elder, all of whom later worked at Versailles. He was accepted (agréé) at the Académie in June 1653 and went to Rome, provided by the king with a purse of 500 livres; he returned to Paris in 1659. He was accepted as a member of the Académie in April 1667 and taught in the Academy schools as an assistant professor (1670), full professor (1676) and assistant rector (1686), which afforded him the lodgings in the Galeries du Louvre where he died.

Etienne Le Hongre provided decorative architectural sculpture throughout his career: at the Palais du Louvre he was paid 180 livres in 1663, executed pediment trophies on the exterior of the Galerie d'Apollon facing the Seine, 1667, sculpted friezes and masques (working with Jean-Baptiste Tuby) for the facade now facing the rue de Rivoli, 1668, and provided capitals and sculpted detail for Perrault's colonnade, 1668–70, for which he received in total 2910 livres. As he showed his skill he was commissioned to sculpt a large figure of Peace for the garden front of the Tuileries, 1666. At Versailles, full-size sculptures were delivered by Le Hongre among many for the Grand cour: Thetis, Plenty, Authority and Africa.

He also worked at the Samaritaine building at the Pont Neuf and at the Château de Choisy. He provided stucco figures and reliefs for the Chapel at the Palais du Luxembourg. Working under the direction of the architect François d'Orbay, he provided bas-reliefs in stucco and carved doors for the church of the Premonstratensians in the Faubourg Saint-Germain, Paris.Garden sculptures for the royal châteaux also occupied him and his assistants through his career. He provided a March and a September for a series of Months at Fontainebleau (1669), a pair of vases for the Grand Trianon (1671). For the facade facing the Orangerie at Versailles he provided appropriate statues of Zephyr, Flora Vertumnus and Pomona, medallions of Vertumnus and Pomona, and five bas-reliefs of putti engaged in gardening chores (1671). He provided sculptures representing motifs from Aesop's Fables for the small fountains in the Labyrinth (1672–73) and much similar work.His sculptures for the funerary monument to the heart of Louis de Cossé, duc de Brissac (died 1661), for the Orléans chapel in the church of the Celestins, dismantled at the Revolution, are conserved at the Louvre Museum; they consist of a column and two mourning figures. None of his funerary monuments survive in situ. Nor do his eight suns in glory of gilded lead for the belltower of the Sainte-Chapelle, removed at the Revolution.

In 1670-74 Le Hongre provided sculptural decorations for the great doors and the high altar in the chapel of the Collège des Quatre-Nations, Paris, and was one of Antoine Coysevox's collaborators on the funerary monument of Cardinal Mazarin which was still in process of completion at Le Hongre's death.

His last major commission, an equestrian sculpture of Louis XIV intended for the Place Royale at Dijon was unfinished at his death. The founders, Roger Schabol and François Aubry, both sculptors in their own right, eventually had to sue Le Hongre's heirs for compensation.[1] Contemporaneous bronze reductions of the monument exist.

He died in his apartments in the Galeries du Louvre and was buried in the church of St Germain l'Auxerrois. His portrait by André Bouys is conserved in the Musée National du château de Versailles.

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