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Jean-Antoine Houdon (1741-1828): Sculptor of the Enlightenment

May 4 – September 7, 2003
West Building Ground Floor

Jean-Antoine Houdon, Alexandre Brongniart, 1777, marble, Widener Collection, 1942.9.123

This exhibition is no longer on view at the National Gallery.

Overview: This first international exhibition devoted to the sculptures of Jean-Antoine Houdon included 59 terra cotta, bronze, plaster, and marble works. Included were portraits of Voltaire, Napoleon, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Paul Jones, and other contemporary figures; busts of women and children; commissions for mythological and allegorical statues; and tomb sculptures. The painting Houdon in His Studio by Louis-Léopold Boilly also was included.

An audio tour was narrated by National Gallery of Art Director Earl A. Powell III; Anne Poulet, exhibition curator; and Nicholas Penny, senior curator of sculpture and decorative arts at the National Gallery of Art.

A special lecture program on portraiture in the 18th century was held on May 10.

Organization: The exhibition was organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, and the Réunion des musées nationaux and l'Etablissement public du musée et du domaine national de Versailles, France. The curator was Anne Poulet, curator emerita of European sculpture and decorative arts, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Sponsor: The exhibition was made possible by a grant from the Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation. Additional support was provided through the Fund for International Exchange of Art by the Annenberg Foundation, the Eugene B. Casey Foundation, Robert W. and Louisa C. Duemling, The Charles Engelhard Foundation, the Arnold D. Frese Foundation, the Estate of Dora Donner Ide, and Lucio and Joan Noto. It was supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

Attendance: 243,059

Catalog: Jean-Antoine Houdon: Sculptor of the Enlightenment, by Anne Poulet et al. Washington D.C.: National Gallery of Art; Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2003.

Other Venues: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, November 4, 2003–January 25, 2004
L'Etablissement public du musée et du domaine national de Versailles, France, March 1–May 30, 2004

Houdon, Jean-Antoine
French, 1741 - 1828

Download a free PDF of the exhibition catalog (PDF 80.84MB)