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Part of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts
Augustin Pajou (French, Paris 1730–1809 Paris)
Date: 1789Accession Number: 56.105
Jean-Baptiste Stouf (Belgian (active France), Paris 1742–1826 Charenton-le-Pont, France)
Date: 1804–8Accession Number: 69.77
Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne the Younger (French, Paris 1704–1778 Paris)
Date: 1768Accession Number: 49.7.73
Guillaume Coustou the Elder (French, Lyons 1677–1746 Paris)
Date: ca. 1727Accession Number: 66.210a, b
Date: ca. 1691–94Accession Number: 35.40.5
François Girardon (French, Troyes 1628–1715 Paris)
Date: 1672–75Accession Number: 39.62
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This display evokes the practice of lining palace corridors with portrait busts of rulers and important citizens—a custom that attests to Europe's ongoing admiration of the values and ideals of ancient Rome, where the tradition originated. Serving to commemorate and to celebrate, portrait busts functioned as recognizable likenesses of their subjects, though sitters were often idealized to ensure a suitably imposing image. By including more of the figure to show costume details, sculptors could create exciting visual effects and convey additional clues about the sitter. Early eighteenth-century portrait busts often feature intense facial expressions and energetic details such as windswept curls—a continuing feature of the Baroque style. Greater restraint characterizes carved likenesses made later in the century, when artists sought inspiration from the sober elegance of ancient statuary.
This gallery is also hung with tapestries—another important feature of palace decoration. Mythological, historical, and allegorical scenes woven from richly colored threads were favored, as were coats of arms, serving as grand celebrations of their owners' wealth and social position.
Main Building 1000 Fifth Avenue (at 82nd Street), New York, NY 10028 | 212-535-7710 (TTY: 212-650-2921)
The Cloisters 99 Margaret Corbin Drive, Fort Tryon Park, New York, NY 10040 | 212-923-3700 (TTY: 212-570-3828)