National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Poetry and Music Clodion (artist)
French, 1738 - 1814
Poetry and Music, c. 1774/1778
overall: 117.6 x 89.1 x 56 cm (46 5/16 x 35 1/16 x 22 1/16 in.) gross weight: 285.766 kg (630 lb.)
Samuel H. Kress Collection
On View
From the Tour: Marble Sculpture from France
Object 6 of 8

This work, along with Tassaert's Painting and Sculpture, was one of four representations of the arts and sciences commissioned by Louis XV's finance minister, Abbé Terray.

It was Clodion who arranged for the expensive Carrara marble used for all of Terray's statues, urging his source not to divulge the name of his unpopular client. Clodion had lived in Italy for nine years after winning the Prix de Rome. A vision of antiquity he acquired while in Italy — a wooded Arcadia where young satyrs and nymphs cavort — continued to be his greatest inspiration. After his return to Paris, these subjects delighted the aristocratic and wealthy bourgeois clients who flooded him with commissions to decorate their homes.

Clodion prepared a terracotta model for Poetry and Music, which is in the National Gallery and frequently on view in the ground-floor sculpture galleries. It provides a rare chance to compare an artist's model with the final version in stone. In this case, Clodion modified the figure of poetry, "correcting" it to adhere to traditional representations: the terracotta figure had rested his head in his hand, but here he holds a writing stylus.

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