The subject of this marble bust is the eminent painter, Jean-Francois de Troy, who in 1783 was made Director of the French Academy in Rome, where pre-eminent French sculptors studied. A terracotta and a plaster model for this bust are still to be seen there. Although these works are unsigned, the sculptor is almost certainly René-Michel (Michelange) Slodtz, who was a friend of the sitter.
Michelange Slodtz was one of five sons of the sculptor Sébastien Slodtz. He won first prize for Sculpture at the Académie in Paris and went to Rome two years later, where he stayed until 1746 when he returned to Paris. In Rome, he was profoundly influenced by the sculpture around him and particularly by the work of Bernini. This bust, and above all its confident and energetic depiction of drapery, shows both the elegance of Bernini's work as well as a remarkable skill in handling marble. Slodtz became the most distinguished French sculptor in Rome at the time.
The eminent painter Jean-Francois de Troy was made Director of the French Academy in Rome in 1738. A terracotta and a plaster model for this bust is still to be seen there.
This bust was attributed to the German sculptor Willem de Groff (d.1742) when it was inventoried in 1952. In his publication on the Slodtz family (1967), François Souchal attributed the terracotta and plaster busts, referred to above, to Michelange Slodtz. Terence Hodgkinson (1972) supported this attribution for the V&A marble bust and firmly identified the sitter as a result of Souchal's work. However, in 1982, having by then seen the marble at the V&A, Souchal re-attributed it to Pierre Lestache (1687-1774). In 1995 there was another unpublished suggestion that this bust was by Coustou. However, Souchal's attribution to Lestache has been rejected by the most recent scholarship (Anne-Lise Desmas, 2002) and the bust re-attributed by her to Slodtz.
Europe 1600-1815, Room 4, case WW
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Scanned : Photogrammetry (Processed using Agisoft PhotoScan)
Courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London