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A well-known composer of the 1700s, Gluck reformed opera by bringing unprecedented simplicity and sincerity to his music and staging, qualities shared by Houdon’s bust. This portrait, by depicting Gluck’s pockmarked face, was perceived as a natural and truthful representation. Yet, he would never have appeared publicly with unkempt hair and an open collar, which constituted the standard for representing an artist.

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Details

  • Title: Portrait of Christoph Willibald Gluck
  • Creator: Jean-Antoine Houdon (French, 1741-1828)
  • Date Created: c. 1775
  • Physical Dimensions: Overall: 49.5 x 40 x 28.5 cm (19 1/2 x 15 3/4 x 11 1/4 in.); with base: 64 x 39.3 x 28.1 cm (25 3/16 x 15 1/2 x 11 1/16 in.)
  • Provenance: Possibly René Huyghe, 1906-1997 (Paris, France), Michael Hall Fine Arts, Inc. (New York, New York), sold to the Cleveland Museum of Art, 1988.
  • Type: Sculpture
  • Rights: CC0
  • External Link: https://clevelandart.org/art/1988.59
  • Medium: terracotta
  • Inscriptions: inscribed in plaster fill in back at bottom: Houdon FT 177[4?]. Since this inscription was clearly added after the terracotta was fired, it cannot be considered a signature.
  • Department: European Painting and Sculpture
  • Culture: France, 18th century
  • Credit Line: Leonard C. Hanna, Jr. Fund
  • Collection: Sculpture
  • Accession Number: 1988.59

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