After Jean-Antoine Houdon (Versailles, 1741-1828 Paris)
Portrait bust of Louise Brongniart
French, second half 19th century
White marble, on circular marble socle
Height: the bust 35.5 cm. / 14 ins., 47 cm. / 18 ½ ins overall
This portrait bust of a young girl is after Houdon’s bust of Louise Brongniart (1772-1845), daughter of the important Neoclassical architect Alexandre-Théodore Brongniart, which was exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1777 alongside a bust of her brother, Alexandre.
The original, thought to be the bust in terracotta now at the Louvre (no. R.F. 1197), was among the sculptor’s most popular portraits in the second half of the nineteenth century and numerous reporoductions in marble are held in museum collections, such as the bust in the Getty Museum, Malibu (no. 85.SA.220).
The busts of the two Brongniart children established the sculptor’s reputation for conveying the innocence of his young subjects in a lively yet unsentimental manner. Louise is depicted nude with her hair carefully tied in a bun at the back of her head, which is secured by a band with a bow on the top. The irises are hollowed out in a round arc ending in a small round swirl describing the pupils, the strong shadowing giving the lifelike impression of a long and inquisitive gaze into the distance.