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Head of Voltaire
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Head of Voltaire

Description Exhibitions Provenance Credit
Description In March 1778, just two months before his death, the famed philosopher Voltaire agreed to sit for Houdon. The resulting bust, showing the great philosopher in the antique style, without a wig or any other costume, was considered to be so true to life that people flocked to the sculptor's studio to marvel at the likeness. Houdon was particularly praised for his ability to give the eyes a lively quality by manipulating light and shadow in the deep carving of the pupils. This exceptionally fine bronze version of the marble original, now preserved in the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Angers, France, is one of many such casts produced either with or without the master's authorization. Their mass production attests to the popularity of Houdon's original.
  • The Allure of Bronze. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1995.
  • Vive la France! French Treasures from the Middle Ages to Monet. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1999-2000.
  • A Magnificent Age: Masterpieces from the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore; The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City; Mint Museum of Art, Charlotte. 2002-2004.
Provenance Henry Walters, Baltimore [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters

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Accession Number
17 11/16 in. (45 cm)


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