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Part of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts
Jean Antoine Houdon (French, Versailles 1741–1828 Paris)
Date: 1788Accession Number: 50.145.66
Clodion (Claude Michel) (French, Nancy 1738–1814 Paris)
Date: ca. 1784Accession Number: 44.21a, b
Date: ca. 1780–90Accession Number: 14.40.687
Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux (French, Valenciennes 1827–1875 Courbevoie)
Date: 1864Accession Number: 2001.199
Augustin Pajou (French, Paris 1730–1809 Paris)
Date: 1799Accession Number: 1986.282
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Many of the sculptures shown here are small clay models for larger works in other materials such as marble. Sculptors used their hands to mold the soft clay into the desired shape and special tools to create the details. The model was fired in a kiln to harden and preserve it (terracotta literally means "baked earth"). Several of the examples on view were rapidly made to capture an idea or to work out a composition. Full of spontaneous energy, these loose sketches record fleeting moments in the creative process, often showing fingerprints and other traces of the artist's handling of the clay. Sculptors might produce more finished models to present to patrons before committing their vision to stone or metal.
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