Facial vivacity, Expression that moves: a Portrait bust curation by Cameron Lee Siegel

This gallery includes 18th century portrait busts that show vivacity of facial expression created in marble, terra-cotta, and plaster.

This eighteenth century portrait bust was one of Jacob Cressant’s earliest works. The bust was created for a wealthy Utrecht family who also had the boys name and age engraved on the bust. What makes this piece so unique is that young children are normally not of topic for sculptors which make busts such as these extremely rare.
A famous face created by famous hands! Jean-Antoine Houdon was one of the leading portrait sculptors of the eighteenth century that created this bust of Ben Franklin. What makes this particular bust so interesting is the fact that Franklin did not sit for this sculpt. The artist and Ben never formally met until 1783 and it is presumed that Houdon created it from memory of seeing Franklin at events and meetings.
This terra-cotta bust was made by Louis Fran Roubiliac. The bust depicts Oliver Cromwell, who was a member of parliament during the English Civil War. Portrait busts of Cromwell were very popular during the eighteenth century and were cast by many sculptors.
This Jean-Jacques Caffieri created bust is a replica of the statues of Moliere’s head. Chaffier is known for his realistic work that garnered his talents to the French Crown exclusively. What makes this bust unique is the eyes which captures a lively and animated look.
Known as both an acadmecician and sculptor, Juan Pascual de Mena is responsible for this portrait bust. It shows Charles of Bourbon who was King of Spain during the cast of this bust. What makes this bust unique is the amount of detailed put into the bust by the artist, especially the detail in the lace collar.
This bust is unique in its own way. This portrait bust created by Franz Xaver Messerchimdt is one of a series of character heads cast by the German sculptor. The bust is of a middle-aged man with a frowning face that appears to be in some type of pain or annoyance. The artist never gave the bust a title which is why the actual intention of the face expression is still not certain.
Another Jacob Cressant created bust, this sculpt was intended to mark the 70th birthday of Jacob van Mollem’s son David. David spent a lavish amount of money decorating and expanding his fathers silk mill gardens after first turning the property into a flourishing business.
This portrait of a small child has a very realistic effect. Artist Jean-Antoine Houdon used very low relief combined with light and shadow to create this effect. Unlike most of the previous molds in the gallery, this bust was comprised from plaster and not terra-cotta. I find this bust interesting because it shows the interest in childhood that started to grow among people in the late eighteenth century.
This marble bust was also created by Jean-Antoine Houdon. The bust depicts Aymara-Jean de Nicolay and broke into a whole new genre that hadn’t previously been achieved. The details in the wrinkles, hair, and eyes give the portrait a sense of vivacity. Houdon is well noted for being one of the first sculptors who could render eyes.
This bust was the first portrait of Marie Antoinette as the queen of France. The bust was commissioned by the queen as a gift for her mother. It was made by the royal porcelain manufactory at Sevres. Louis Simon Boizot, sculptor and head of the manufactory at the time the bust was made is most likely responsible for the model of this mold.
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