Recent Acquisitions - 10 of 12
Attributed to the Paris, rue de Charenton Manufacture, after a model by Jean-Baptiste II Lemoyne (French, 1704–1778)
Bust of Louis XV
Faience fine (lead-glazed earthenware)
Height: 22 5/8 in. (57.5 cm) (in two parts)
Acquired by the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 2006
This flamboyant portrait of Louis XV (1710–1774) shows the king of France at the height of his majesty and popularity, when he was still known and celebrated as le Bien-Aimé (the Well-Beloved). His cloak tossed by an unseen wind, the king looks proudly above and beyond the viewer. Royal portraits such as this were meant to convey the monarch’s divine authority and military might; however, by the end of his ineffectual reign nearly thirty years after this bust was executed, Louis hardly possessed either. Nevertheless, Lemoyne—one of the king’s favorite portraitists—achieved a remarkably animated likeness of his noble sitter that is at once elegant and grandiose. The material, faience fine, is a refined lead-glazed earthenware that was developed in the 1740s. Admired for its creamy surface, it became very popular in France during Louis XV’s reign. Like soft-paste porcelain, faience fine was considered a luxury material, and ambitious sculptural pieces such as this one would have been made in limited quantities. Hence, possession of this bust would have been confined to a member of the aristocracy eager to display his or her dedication to the king. Only a few examples of the current model are known, including those in the collections of the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Musée National de Céramique, Sèvres. Closely related busts of the king in Chantilly soft-paste porcelain are in the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Minneapolis Institute of Art, while another similar portrait in marble is in the collection of the Château de Versailles.