Diana the Huntress by Jean-Antoine Houdon (1740–1828), a signature work at The Frick Collection, returns to view having been recently cleaned. It finds a home in the new Portico Gallery, while the ongoing display of other sculptures and ceramics will rotate periodically.

Swift virgin goddess of moon and hunt, Diana alights poised on one foot, a technical tour de force. The life-size terracotta, supported by interior metal armatures, is constructed of at least ten separately fired sections. Many versions of the Diana were made by Houdon and his workshop, in plaster, metal, and marble, life-size, reduced, and of the bust alone. Probably the earliest surviving example is a plaster dated 1776, in the Schlossmuseum, Gotha. The Frick piece, which is signed but not dated, is believed to have been produced several years later, and certainly was certainly completed by 1795. The arrow once held in Diana's right hand is now missing, and her wooden bow is a replacement.

Large-scale terracottas were common in antiquity and in certain regions of Italy. In eighteenth-century France, the pastel hues and subtle malleability of baked clay made it a popular medium for small sculptures, but a terracotta statue so large and so precariously posed as this Diana was unprecedented. As in the virtuoso carving of his marble portrait busts, Houdon explored the frontiers of his chosen medium, again reaching beyond their traditional limitations.


  • Title: Diana the Huntress
  • Creator Lifespan: active 1741
  • Creator Nationality: French
  • Creator Gender: Male
  • Date Created: 1776/1795
  • Physical Dimensions: h1917.7 in
  • Type: sculpture
  • External Link: See more on The Frick Collection website
  • Medium: terracotta
  • Sculptor: Jean-Antoine Houdon
  • Provenance: Cardinal Fesch (?). Henry de Montault, Paris. Susse. Victorien Sardou (1869–1908). Madame Sardou. Duveen (1911). The Frick Collection, 1939. Source: Sculpture in The Frick Collection: German, Netherlandish, French and British. Volume IV. New York: The Frick Collection, 1970.
  • Credit Line: Purchased by The Frick Collection, 1939

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