After a model by Augustin Pajou (French, Paris 1730–1809 Paris)
Hard-paste biscuit porcelain
Height: 18 3/4 in. (47.6 cm)
Purchase, Friends of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts Gifts, 1998
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 552
In 1779 Pajou exhibited a marble statue of Bossuet executed as part of a series by numerous sculptors of portraits of twenty-seven "Great Men" of France. Three years later the comte d'Angivillers, director of the Batiments du Roi, who had initiated the program on behalf of Louis XVI, instigated the production at Sevres of small-scale versions of these statues in the hope of attracting a wider market. This figure of Bossuet, cast from Pajou's own reduction of his marble, is one of twelve known Sevres models from the series. Bossuet was the preeminent churchman of his time, renowned as an orator of exceptional power. Pajou portrays him as bishop of Meaux, the See to which he was appointed in I68i. Richly dressed in lace and fur, he is shown standing, with commanding expression and gesture, the folds of his cape cascading to a tumbled hem.
D'Angivillers's plan for the portraits called for both standing and seated figures, which offered variety in pose and rhythm. The Museum has long owned a Sevres example of Clodion's model of the seated Montesquieu (05.11); with this figure of Bossuet we can now suggest the intended effect of the series.
[James David Draper, 1999]
Marking: Incised on top of plinth at front right: L R 3
[ Stiebel Ltd. , New York, until 1998; sold to MMA ]