National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Monumental Urn Style of Clodion
Clodion (sculptor)
French, 1738 - 1814
Monumental Urn, c. 1860
overall: 131.5 x 97.1 cm (51 3/4 x 38 1/4 in.)
Andrew W. Mellon Collection
On View
From the Tour: Marble Sculpture from France
Object 7 of 8

Clodion is best known today and was most celebrated in the eighteenth century for works of vivacity and charm. The relief panels decorating these urns, one of which is illustrated here, are typical of his engaging subjects: satyr families tussle and frolic in bucolic settings, playing music, and riding seesaws. The scenes on the urns include some of Clodion's most popular vignettes, which he copied many times in terracotta (including a plaque often on view in the downstairs sculpture galleries) and other media, and which are even found as gilded decorations on furniture. Clodion had an active workshop and was so busy that he failed even to complete the masterpiece for his admission to the French Academy. Probably the urns were carved not by Clodion himself, but by workshop assistants following terracotta models provided by the master, a common procedure in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

One of Clodion's most beautiful carvings, a Vestal Virgin made for the Russian empress Catherine the Great, can be seen in the ground-floor galleries. This solemn and heavily draped figure contrasts with the playfully sensuous figure style on these urns.

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