Past Exhibition: Enlightenment and Beauty

Enlightenment and Beauty: Sculptures by Houdon and Clodion
April 1, 2014 to April 5, 2015
Marble bust of a woman glancing over right shoulder with long, curly hair pulled back and leaves adorning her garment

Jean-Antoine Houdon (1741–1828) and Claude Michel, called Clodion (1738–1814), were two of the foremost sculptors in France during the late eighteenth century, and the Frick houses an important group of their works. In 1915, founder Henry Clay Frick acquired Clodion’s terracotta Zephyrus and Flora and, the following year, Houdon’s marble bust of the Comtesse du Cayla. Other works that were subsequently added to the collection were shown together for the first time, highlighting the artists’ expressive ranges, as well as their defining contributions to the sculpture of Enlightenment-era France.

Displayed in the brilliant natural light of the Frick’s Portico Gallery, exquisitely carved, lifelike marble portraits by Houdon and virtuoso terracotta figures and reliefs by Clodion epitomized each artist’s best-known achievements. Important examples from New York–area private collections complemented the Frick’s sculptures and introduced other aspects of the artists’ oeuvres not represented at the museum. The ensemble illustrated the beauty, naturalism, and classical motifs that connect the works of both artists, who were fellow students in Rome, while also drawing attention to their respective goals and sensibilities as the dominant French sculptors of their day.

The exhibition was organized by Denise Allen, Curator, and Katie Steiner, Curatorial Assistant, with Alyse Muller, Ayesha Bulchandani Curatorial Intern.

Support for the presentation was generously provided by Margot and Jerry Bogert and Mrs. Henry Clay Frick II.

Jean-Antoine Houdon (1741–1828), Comtesse du Cayla, 1777. Marble, h. 21 1/4 in. (54 cm). The Frick Collection; photo: Michael Bodycomb

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