The intimate and informal tastes of the French rococo made a place for sculpture that was lighthearted and personal, smaller in scale than the grandiose works of the preceding baroque. Eighteenth-century patrons were often happy with less imposing materials as well. This is a terracotta model, fresh with the immediacy of the sculptor's hand. Although created in the process of preparing a marble commission, the Model for "Poetry and Music" is signed and was surely intended to be seen as a work of art in its own right. The larger-scale marble version is installed in the East Sculpture Hall on the upper level of the West Building.
The sculptor Claude Michel, known universally as Clodion, was one of four artists commissioned by Abbé Terray to create allegorical sculptures representing the arts and sciences. Abbé Terray, a powerful government minister, had served briefly as director of the king's buildings and had overall responsibility for the state of the arts in all France. The sculptures, intended for his elaborate residence in Paris, reflected his interests. In this work, which gives life to poetry and music, one chubby cupid-like boy is absorbed by the verses in his book while the other is transported by the sound of his lute.
Model for "Poetry and Music"
DIMENSIONS: 27 x 23.3 x 15.6 cm (10 5/8 x 9 3/16 x 6 1/8 in.)
COLLECTION: National Gallery of Art, Washington DC. Loula D. Lasker Fund
ACCESSION NUMBER: 1976.10.1