Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Voltaire en papier-maché

On July 11th 1791, David devised a magnificent classical pageant to accompany the translation of Voltaire's body to the Panthéon.  (Sadly it rained heavily, rendering the twelve white horses and their triumphal chariot decidedly mud-bespattered and unheroic). The procession included four men dressed in classic theatre costumes carrying a golden statue of Voltaire....

Voltaire considers the reserve stack books
Bibliothèque Jacques-Villon, Rouen

...And here it is - a full size papier-maché version of Houdon's famous seated statue of the great philosopher!. He's lost his gold and lurks unloved among the bookcases of the municipal library in Rouen (not sure how he got there). The statue has lately featured in scholarly articles on Houdon - so, who knows, perhaps they will let him out of the corner now.

Voltaire's funeral procession on the Chateau de Cirey website's_later_life_funeral_procession.htm

Rouen libraries - Collections (ppt)

“Le Voltaire assis de Houdon: étude et restaurationTechnè: la science au service de l'histoire de l'art et des civilisations  21 (2005)  

Article concerning the conservation of the terracotta Houdon Voltaire in the Musée Fabre, Montpellier.

"The second part of the article describes a comparative study made possible through the restoration project, in which the Montpellier work was studied along with four replicas (plaster in the Bibliotheque nationale; marble in the Comédie française; terracotta in the Musée Voltaire, Geneva; and papier-mâché in the municipal library, Rouen) as well as the photographic documentation of an additional three. Thanks to these investigations, it has proved possible to propose grouping the known replicas in two different chronological series and to open up some new research perspectives"

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