Skip to main content Skip to Search Box
Summary Article: Houdon, Jean-Antoine
from The Columbia Encyclopedia

(zhäN-äNtwän' ōdôN'), 1741–1828, French neoclassical sculptor. He studied with Michel Ange Slodtz, Lemoyne, and Pigalle, took the Prix de Rome at the age of 20, and spent four years in Italy. Many of his later works reveal his study of classical form, e.g., the marble Diana (St. Petersburg) and The Bather (Metropolitan Mus. of Art, N.Y.C.). He quickly became famous in Paris for his extraordinarily accurate portrait sculptures and received commissions from all over the world. In 1785 he visited the United States briefly and stayed at Mt. Vernon while making studies for his statue of Washington (capitol, Richmond, Va.). Among his portrait busts are those of Jefferson, Franklin, Diderot, Rousseau, John Paul Jones, Napoleon, Josephine, Lafayette, Molière, Mirabeau, Buffon, and Prince Henry of Prussia, and he also sculpted a full-length statue of Voltaire (Comédie Française). He succeeded not only in creating sculptural documents of his time, but in developing a type of portraiture remarkable for its elegance, measured realism, and depiction of individuality. Houdon exerted a strong influence over European and American sculptors for several generations.

  • See Poulet, A. L. , Jean-Antoine Houdon: Sculptor of the Enlightenment (2004).
The Columbia Encyclopedia, © Columbia University Press 2018

Related Articles

Full text Article HOUDON, JEAN-ANTOINE 1741-1828
Encyclopedia of the Romantic Era, 1760-1850

French sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon was the most versatile and varied French sculptor of the eighteenth century, representing the best in...

Full text Article HOUDON, JEAN-ANTOINE (1741-1828)
France and the Americas: Culture, Politics, and History

Recognized as the greatest sculptor in the Western world of the late eighteenth century based on his gallery of portraits unparalleled in range...

Full text Article Houdon, Jean-Antoine (1741 - 1828)
The Bloomsbury Guide to Art

He was the most successful French sculptor of the second half of the 18th century. He studied under J.-B. Lemoyne and J.-B....

See more from Credo