Germain Pilon

Germain Pilon (c. 1525 – 3 February 1590)[1] was a French Renaissance sculptor.

Monument du coeur d'Henri II
Monument containing the heart of Henry II of France.


He was born in Paris and trained with his father, Antione Pilon. Documents show that he and his father executed several religious statues and tomb effigies in collaboration. Since Connat & Colombier established that Germain was born c. 1525[1] (rather than about ten years later, as previously believed[2]), several early works have been reattributed to him, including the marble grouping Diana with a Stag (originally at the Château d'Anet, Eure-et-Loir; now at the Louvre).[3] Later he worked with Pierre Bontemps.[4] Pilon became expert with marble, bronze, wood and terra cotta. From about 1555 he was providing models for Parisian goldsmiths.[5] He was also skilled at drawing.

His works - with their realism and theatrical emotion - show the influence of the School of Fontainebleau, Michelangelo and Italian Mannerism. Germain at first had an Italian influence. Much of Pilon's work was on funerary monuments, especially the Valois Chapel at the Saint Denis Basilica designed by Francesco Primaticcio (never completed). He was the favorite sculptor of queen Catherine de' Medici.


Pilon's most famous works include:

  • Eight subsidiary statues for the Tomb of Francis I (contracted with Philibert de l'Orme, 1558).
  • Monument containing the heart of Henry II of France (1561–1562) Louvre - made in collaboration with Domenico del Barbieri (who designed the pedestal), Pilon was responsible for the eloquent sculpture of the Three Graces, executed from a single block of marble. The king's heart was placed in a bronze urn held by the Three Graces, but this urn was destroyed during the French Revolution and has been replicated.[6]
  • Tomb of Henry II and Catherine de' Medici (1561–1573) Abbey Church of Saint Denis Basilica - Pilon was responsible for the kneeling bronze figures on top of this monument (depicting the king and queen alive and praying) the moving and realistic recumbent figures of the queen and king in death at the center and the four Virtues at the corners of the monument, the construction of which was supervised by Francesco Primaticcio (who sculpted the four corner figures). (Catherine de' Medici is reported to have fainted at the sight of these figures.)
  • Effigies of Henry II and Catherine de' Medici in coronation dress (1583) Abbey Church of Saint Denis Basilica - this later pair lacks the emotional intensity of the previous work
  • Resurrection of Christ and recumbent figures of the guardians of the tomb, reunited in 1933 at the Musée du Louvre.
  • Virgin of Pity (c.1585) (terra cotta) Louvre
  • Tomb of Valentine Balbiani (1574) Louvre
  • Descent from the Cross (1580–1585) (Bronze bas-relief) Louvre
  • Three Fates (Hôtel de Cluny, Paris).


Resurrection Pilon Louvre RF2292 MR1592 MR1593

Resurrection of Christ, Louvre


Resurrection of Christ (detail)

Diana of Anet

Diana with a Stag, Louvre[3]

Rotonde des Valois Intérieur

Drawing of how the tomb of Henry II and his wife orginally looked; it shows the Effigies at top and the double tomb below

Basilica di saint Denis tomba enrico II e caterina de' Medici 02

Tomb of Henry II and Catherine de' Medici, Saint-Denis Basilica, with marble effigies

Basilica di saint Denis tomba enrico II e caterina de' Medici 03

Saint-Denis Basilica, kneeling bronzes of Henry II and Catherine de' Medici on top of their tomb

Heinrich II Katharina von Medici 1

Saint-Denis Basilica, marble sculptures of Henry II and Catherine de' Medici in coronation robes

See also


  1. ^ a b Connat & Colombier 1951; Thirion 1996.
  2. ^ Babelon reports that in 1583 Germain Pilon said he was "forty-six or thereabouts" and gives c. 1537 for his year of birth (Babelon 1927, p. 33). Connat & Colombier say that Babelon's date of 1583 is incorrect; the cited document is dated 15 May 1581, from which his year of birth would be calculated as c. 1535.
  3. ^ a b Diana with a Stag was formerly attributed to Jean Goujon, but Anthony Blunt conclusively rejected that attribution in 1953 and argued the statue is very likely an early work of Germain Pilon (see Blunt & Beresford 1999, pp. 80–81). Thirion considers Blunt's reattribution to be relatively convincing (Thirion 1996, p. 812).
  4. ^ Thirion 1996, p. 812.
  5. ^ Babelon 1927.
  6. ^ Victoria L. Goldberg, "Graces, Muses, and Arts: The Urns of Henry II and Francis I" Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 29 (1966), pp. 206-218.


  • Babelon, Jean (1927). Germain Pilon. Paris: Les Beaux-Arts, Edition d'etudes et de documents. OCLC 372675, 458567104.
  • Blunt, Anthony; Beresford, Richard (1999). Art and Architecture in France, 1500–1700, 5th edition. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press. ISBN 9780300077483.
  • Connat, M.; Colombier,P. du (1951). "Quelques Documents commentés sur André et Germain Pilon", Bibliothèque d'Humanisme et Renaissance, vol. 13, pp. 196–204. JSTOR 20673562.
  • Thirion, Jacques (1996). "Pilon, Germain", vol. 24, pp. 812–815, in The Dictionary of Art (34 volumes), edited by Jane Turner. New York: Grove. Also at Oxford Art Online (bibliography updated 2003, 2010; subscription required).

External links

  • Germain Pilon in American public collections, on the French Sculpture Census website Edit this at Wikidata
1535 in art

The year 1535 in art involved some significant events and new works.

1537 in art

A summary of the events, works and notable births and deaths relating to 1537 in art.

1583 in art

The year 1583 in art involved some significant events and new works.

1590 in France

Events from the year 1590 in France

1590 in art

The year 1590 in art involved some significant events and new works.

Barthélemy Prieur

Barthélemy Prieur (c. 1536-1611) was a French sculptor.

Prieur was born to a Huguenot family in Berzieux, Champagne (now in the department of the Marne). He traveled to Italy, where he worked from 1564 to 1568 for Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy in Turin. Upon his return to France, he worked principally on funerary monuments and busts, but also on small bronzes.

In 1571 he began employment under Jean Bullant at the Palais du Louvre, where he was a contemporary of Germain Pilon. In 1585 he created the monument to Christophe de Thou, now preserved in the Louvre Museum, and was named sculptor to king Henry IV in 1591. He restored the Roman marble now called the Diana of Versailles in 1602.

Several of his bronzes are preserved in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, including Gladiator, Lion Devouring a Doe, Seated Woman Pulling a Thorn from Her Heel, and Small Horse. His bronze busts of King Henry IV and his wife Marie de' Medici (circa 1600) are now in the Ashmolean Museum. His Monument du coeur du connétable Anne de Montmorency is on display in the Louvre.

Claude-François Clicquot

Claude-François Clicquot (1762 – 29 March 1801) was a French organ-builder, son of the celebrated François-Henri Clicquot.

During and after the French Revolution he saved many organs in Paris and in the provinces.

Domenico del Barbieri

Domenico del Barbieri (c. 1506 - c. 1570) was a Florentine artist of the Renaissance period, also referred to as Domenico del Barbiere, Domenico Fiorentino, and, in France,Dominique Florentin.

He settled and married at Troyes in France between 1530 and 1533. He joined the studio of Italian artists who worked with Primaticcio and Rosso Fiorentino at Fontainebleau and Meudon. He worked both on the stucco-work and frescoes. He was also an engraver.

In 1541, he returned to Troyes, where he enjoyed success as a sculptor for churches. His style of sculpture was influenced, particularly in the heads and the drapery, by Andrea Sansovino, and shows Mannerist characteristics. His Charity, at St. Pantaléon in Troyes, suggests that del Barbieri was aware of the contrapposto style of Michelangelo. His relief work for the tomb of Claude, Duke of Guise (died 1550), reveals the possible influence of Rosso and of Francesco Salviati.Vasari noted del Barbieri in his writings.

Under the direction of Primaticcio, del Barbieri executed the base for the monument for the heart of Henry II of France, the figures for which were sculpted by Germain Pilon. Pilon may have been influenced in the flowing drapery of the figures of the Three Graces by del Barbieri's work. The monument was del Barbieri's last known commission.

Edmond Eugène Valton

Edmond-Eugène Valton (September 25, 1836 in Paris – September 1910), French painter, draughtsman and illustrator. He studied with Felix Fossey (1826–1895), and at the École des Beaux Arts, under Célestin Nanteuil (1813–1873), Paul Delaroche (1797–1856), Merry-Joseph Blondel (1781–1853) David d'Angers (1788–1856) and Thomas Couture (1815–1879). He was one of the founder members of the Société des Artistes Indépendants in 1904 and in 1909 president.His work is kept in

-Musée d’Orsay, (oil on canvas Portrait of Thomas Couture), in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, (drawing, The Scholar)

-Institut de France (51 drawings for illustrations to fables of Jean de La Fontaine (1621–1695))

-Museum Grey (oil on canvas Les Halles)

-Museum Longwy, (oil on canvas The Harvest).

-Croatian private collection (sixty-seven drawings drawn between 1871 and 1910).For Valton drawing was perhaps the most important artistic discipline. He was an art teacher at the École Germain Pilon (the future École des Arts Appliqués). Among his students was Marcel L'Enfant. He was the author of three books about drawing.Valton documented with the classical artistic language the changes that industrialisation had brought into his world. With a modern language, he recorded the endangered and almost metaphysical landscapes of the Île-de-France.

Fountain of Diana

Fountain of Diana (Diane d'Anet, Diana with a Stag), c. 1549, is a marble Mannerist sculpture of Diane de Poitiers as goddess Diana in the Louvre (Louvre MR 1581 MR sup 123). Formerly known as Jean Goujon's work, it is now thought more likely to have been the work of Germain Pilon or someone else (see below).

French Renaissance

The French Renaissance was the cultural and artistic movement in France between the 15th and early 17th centuries. The period is associated with the pan-European Renaissance, a word first used by the French historian Jules Michelet to define the artistic and cultural "rebirth" of Europe.

Notable developments during the French Renaissance include the spread of humanism, early exploration of the "New World" (as New France by Giovanni da Verrazzano and Jacques Cartier); the development of new techniques and artistic forms in the fields of printing, architecture, painting, sculpture, music, the sciences and literature; and the elaboration of new codes of sociability, etiquette and discourse.

The French Renaissance traditionally extends from (roughly) the French invasion of Italy in 1494 during the reign of Charles VIII until the death of Henry IV in 1610. This chronology notwithstanding, certain artistic, technological or literary developments associated with the Renaissance arrived in France earlier (for example, by way of the Burgundy court or the Papal court in Avignon); however, the Black Death of the 14th century and the Hundred Years' War kept France economically and politically weak until the late 15th century.

The reigns of Francis I of France (from 1515 to 1547) and his son Henry II (from 1547 to 1559) are generally considered the apex of the French Renaissance.

Henry II of France

Henry II (French: Henri II; 31 March 1519 – 10 July 1559) was King of France from 31 March 1547 until his death in 1559. The second son of Francis I, he became Dauphin of France upon the death of his elder brother Francis III, Duke of Brittany, in 1536. Henry was the tenth king from the House of Valois, the third from the Valois-Orléans branch, and the second from the Valois-Orléans-Angoulême branch.

As a child, Henry and his elder brother spent over four years in captivity in Spain as hostages in exchange for their father. Henry pursued his father's policies in matter of arts, wars and religion. He persevered in the Italian Wars against the House of Habsburg and tried to suppress the Protestant Reformation, even as the Huguenot numbers were increasing drastically in France during his reign.

The Treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis (1559), which put an end to the Italian Wars, had mixed results: France renounced its claims to territories in Italy, but gained certain other territories, including the Pale of Calais and the Three Bishoprics. France failed to change the balance of power in Europe, as Spain remained the sole dominant power, but it did benefit from the division of the holdings of its ruler, Charles V, and from the weakening of the Holy Roman Empire, which Charles also ruled.

Henry suffered an untimely death in a jousting tournament held to celebrate the Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis at the conclusion of the Eighth Italian War. The king's surgeon, Ambroise Paré, was unable to cure the infected wound inflicted by Gabriel de Montgomery, the captain of his Scottish Guard. He was succeeded in turn by three of his sons, whose ineffective reigns helped to spark the French Wars of Religion between Protestants and Catholics.

Henry II style

The Henry II style was the chief artistic movement of the sixteenth century in France, part of Northern Mannerism. It came immediately after High Renaissance and was largely the product of Italian influences. Francis I and his daughter-in-law, Catherine de' Medici, had imported to France a number Italian artists of Raphael's or Michelangelo's school; the Frenchmen who followed them in working in the Mannerist idiom. Besides the work of Italians in France, many Frenchman picked up Italianisms while studying art in Italy during the middle of the century. The Henry II style, though named after Henry II of France, in fact lasted from about 1530 until 1590 under five French monarchs, their mistresses and their queens.

The most lasting products of the Henry II style were architectural. First Rosso Fiorentino and then Francesco Primaticcio and Sebastiano Serlio served Henry II as court artisans, constructing his gallery and the Aile de la Belle Cheminée (1568). The French architect Pierre Lescot and the sculptor Jean Goujon rebuilt the Palais du Louvre around the now famous square court. The Château d'Anet, commissioned by Diane de Poitiers, mistress of Henry II, was designed by Philibert Delorme, who studied in Rome. The very mannerist château housed a statue of Diana by Benvenuto Cellini, who was working in France. In 1564 Delorme began work on the Tuileries, the most outstanding Parisian palais of the Henry II style. It too exhibited a mannerist treatment of classical themes, for which Delorm had developed his own "French order" of columns.

Jean Bullant, another architect who studied in Rome, also produced designs that combined classical "themes" in a mannerist structure. The Château d'Écouen and the Château de Chantilly, both for Anne de Montmorency, exemplify the Henry II-style château, which was proliferating among the nobility. A very thorough catalogue of engravings of sixteenth-century French architecture was produced by Jacques Androuet du Cerceau the Elder under the title Les plus excellents bastiments de France (between 1576 and 1579, in two volumes). Much of the buildings so engraved have been destroyed (like the Tuileries) or significantly altered (like Écouen), so that Cerceau's reproductions are the best guide to the Henry II style.

In painting, like in architecture, the French were influenced by Italian mannerism and many Italian painters and sculptors were active members of the First School of Fontainebleau, which in turn produced an active and talented crop of native painters and sculptors, such as Germain Pilon and Juste de Juste. By the end of the century the Henry II style, a Gallicised form of Italian mannerism, had been replaced by a more consistent classicism, with hints of the coming Baroque. Its immediately successor in French art historiography is the Henry IV style.

List of Renaissance figures

This is a list of notable people associated with the Renaissance.

Pierre Bontemps

Pierre Bontemps (c. 1505–1568) was a French sculptor known for his funeral monuments; he was, with Germain Pilon, one of the pre-eminent sculptors of the French Renaissance.

He executed most of the bas-reliefs on the tomb of King Francis I of France, representing the French victories at the battle of Marignano and the battle of Ceresole.

His also are the statues of the king, Queen Claude, the Dauphin, and Louis XII and Anne of Brittany on Louis' tomb in the Basilica of Saint-Denis. The figures from the tomb of Charles de Maigny (c. 1556) now reside in the Musée du Louvre.

In 1936, a sale of contents from the chateau of Monchy-Humières included a full-length marble tomb which had been used as a garden ornament. Originally thought to be of Louis, duc d'Humières (1628-1694), it was in fact Jean III d'Humières (died 1553), executed by Bontemps. This is also in the Louvre.

School of Fontainebleau

The Ecole de Fontainebleau (c.1530–c.1610) refers to two periods of artistic production in France during the late Renaissance centered on the royal Palace of Fontainebleau that were crucial in forming the French version of Northern Mannerism.

Thomas W. Gaehtgens

Thomas W. Gaehtgens (born June 24, 1940 in Leipzig) is a German art historian with special interest in French and German art and art history from the 18th to the 20th century. He was the founding director of the Deutsches Forum für Kunstgeschichte in Paris (Centre Allemand d'Histoire de l'Art de Paris; German Center for the History of Art, Paris) and was director of the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles, California.

Val-de-Grâce (church)

The Church of the Val-de-Grâce is a Roman Catholic church in the 5th arrondissement of Paris, in what is now the Val-de-Grâce Hospital. The edifice was formerly a royal abbey, and its dome is a principal landmark of the skyline of Paris. The church was initially designed by François Mansart, succeeded by Jacques Lemercier who designed the Saint-Sacrament chapel's spiral-coffered dome after Philibert de L'Orme's chapel at the Château d'Anet.

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