Rare Houdon Work on Loan to The Frick Collection

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Marble sculpture of a dead songbird hanging upside down, pinned by its legs to a flat wall-like surface

Director Anne L. Poulet announces the loan to The Frick Collection of a stunning work by sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon (1741–1828). The exquisite marble relief, The Dead Thrush (La grive morte), 1782, from The Horvitz Collection, Boston, has recently been placed on display in the North Hall across from the portrait of the Marquis de Miromesnil (1777), also by Houdon. There the relief may be viewed in proximity to Jean-Étienne Liotard’s Trompe L’Oeil (1771), a painting closely related to it in style. The Dead Thrush is on loan to The Frick Collection through August 2006. Comments Poulet, who organized a critically acclaimed traveling exhibition of Houdon’s sculpture in 2003–04, “we are delighted to be able to share with the public this rare and beautiful example of Houdon’s treatment of an animal subject. In the context of our own holdings by the artist, which fall within his more typical genres of portraiture and mythological sculpture, it offers visitors a superb opportunity to consider his skill and oeuvre more completely.” All told, there are three masterful sculptures by Houdon in the Frick’s permanent holdings: the aforementioned marble portrait bust of the Marquis de Miromesnil; a marble bust of the Comtesse du Cayla (currently on view in the Fragonard Room); and a full-length, life-sized terracotta statue of Diana the Huntress. The latter work, on view in the Oval Room of the Frick, represents a particularly fine example of Houdon’s technical virtuosity in that delicate medium.