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François Girardon

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A noted sculptor of the reign of Louis XIV, b. at Troyes, France, 1630; d. at Paris, 1715. The son of a bronze-founder, he studied first under the sculptor François Anguier and afterwards at Rome. Returning to France he was taken into the service of the king, working under Lebrun, whose favourite he was. After Lebrun's death in 1690 he exerted great influence as professor of the academy of sculpture and painting, of which institution he later became the chancellor. Like the other sculptors of his time he followed in the footsteps of Bernini, but the influence of the old school of Fontainebleau was also perceptible in his work. The Louvre possesses the model of his spirited equestrian statue of the king which was erected in the Place Vendome and destroyed during the Revolution. One of his finest works is the monument to Richelieu, in the church of the Sorbonne; the dying cardinal lies on a richly draped sarcophagus, supported by the figure of religion, while the figure of science mourns at his feet. Among his other sepulchral monuments are those in memory of his wife, the Princess de Conti, and the minister Louvois. The bust of Boileau is forceful but the wig on the beardless head reveals the tendency of the art of the age of Louis XIV to weaken its stateliness by effeminacy. Both these qualities are seen in the "Rape of Proserpine", an imitation of Bernini, which relies on the effect of contrast. The "Nymphs Bathing", a relief intended, like the work just mentioned, for the park of Versailles is a good example of his decorative, voluptuous style. Among other figures in the park of Versailles, either produced by him or under his direction attention may be called to the allegorical statue, "Winter as an Old Man ".

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