Head of a Bearded Old Man

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This is very likely the sculpture which was exhibited by Pajou in the Salon of 1761 (livret entry No. 139) as 'Tête de Vieillard', head of an old man.
Almost certainly a portrait modelled from life - and Pajou excelled in terracotta portraits (e.g. V&A Museum Number A.27-1959) - it has been suggested that this bust represents St Augustine, who is generally depicted with a long flowing beard and thoughtful expression. This would link the bust to one of the most important commissions received by Pajou in his early years, shortly after his return from Rome. There are arguments in favour of this theory. We know that in 1761 Pajou was working on his marble statue of this saint for the Hôtel des Invalides. His St Augustine was one of a series commissioned in the middle of the 18th century to replace existing plaster statues dating from the late 17th century. The most notable Parisian sculptors were involved and it was one of the few ambitious schemes for religious sculpture at the time. At the Revolution, all were removed and almost all, including the St Augustine, disappeared.
That the terracotta bust was conceived as a part of a full-length statue rather than as an autonomous work of art is indicated by the abrupt truncation; and the suggested drapery is consistent with the cope worn by the full-length figure of the Saint. In addition, the bust is a little larger than life-size, which would correspond with its being a full-scale model and highly finished study for the Invalides statue which we know stood about 7' 9" high. However, this theory is considerably weakened by the fact that St Augustine is almost invariably depicted as wearing a mitre, and moreover a contemporary sketch of Pajou’s model of Saint Augustine exhibited at the same Salon of 1761 shows the Saint wearing one.
This bust can more appropriately be seen in the context of Têtes d’Expression which were heads (faces) created as an academic exercise in depicting human emotion. Such studies were a requirement of sculptors who wished to be officially recognised by the Academy. Pajou’s interest in studying and representing old men is demonstrated by his black chalk studies on this subject (private collection); a medallion in the Chapelle de la Providence, Versailles, and two other terracotta heads - in Toronto (Art Gallery of Ontario) and New York (Metropolitan Museum of Art). This head may simply be a penetrating psychological study, created at the time Pajou was working on St Augustine.
Terence Hodgkinson suggests this is the sculpture which was exhibited in the Salon of 1761 as 'Tête de Vieillard'. Its history thereafter is obscure. It passed into the David Weill Collection, Neuilly-sur-Seine, in the 19th century and is illustrated in the standard book on Pajou by Henri Stein (1911). In recent years it seems to have been in a relatively obscure private collection, from which it was acquired by the Heim Gallery.
Its identification as St. Augustine was proposed by Hodgkinson when it was acquired by the V&A. As he remarks: "In 1761 Pajou was working on his marble statue of this saint for the Dôme des Invalides. Indeed, in the Salon of this year, as well as the 'Tête de Vieillard', Pajou exhibited a small terracotta sketch model for the statue of St. Augustine. Although the Heim Gallery bust was almost certainly modelled from life, it conforms to the traditional representation of a Doctor of the Church.
"That the bust was conceived as a part of a full-length statue rather than as an autonomous work of art is indicated by the summary truncation; and the fold of drapery at the front is consistent with the cope worn by the full-length figure of the Saint. In addition, the bust is a little larger than life-size which would correspond with its being a full-scale model and highly finished study for the Invalides statue, which we know stood about 7' 9" high.
"The statue of St Augustine was one of a series commissioned in the middle of the 18th century to replace existing plaster statues dating from the late 17th century (Pajou was to replace a St Augustine by Poultier). The most notable Parisian sculptors were involved and it was one of the few ambitious schemes for religious sculpture at the time. At the Revolution, all were removed and almost all, including the St Augustine, disappeared".
This bust therefore records one of the most important commissions received by Pajou in his early years, shortly after his return from Rome.


This object is part of "Scan The World". Scan the World is a non-profit initiative introduced by MyMiniFactory, through which we are creating a digital archive of fully 3D printable sculptures, artworks and landmarks from across the globe for the public to access for free. Scan the World is an open source, community effort, if you have interesting items around you and would like to contribute, email stw@myminifactory.com to find out how you can help.

Scanned : Photogrammetry (Processed using Agisoft PhotoScan)
Scanned with - Einscan-Pro
Courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London

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