Diana the Huntress

Jean-Antoine Houdon (1741–1828)
Diana the Huntress, 1776–95
Terracotta
75 1/2 in. (191.8 cm)
The Frick Collection, New York; Purchased 1939

 

Houdon’s exploration of the figure in motion finds full expression in this life-size portrayal of Diana, the goddess of the hunt, who bounds forward in pursuit of her quarry with a bow and (lost) arrow. The open stance of the goddess, who balances on one foot in a display of technical ingenuity, expands the limits of the terracotta medium. In his unorthodox portrayal of the virgin goddess’s nudity, Houdon combines classical subject matter with the knowledge of the human body that he gained while working from life in Rome.