Since Houdon’s visit to America in 1785 and the creation of his Portrait of General Washington (Richmond) (ill.), since the French nation's gift to America of the Statue of Liberty in 1886 (ill.), French sculpture has held a special place in the United States. The Census of French Sculpture in American Public Collections (1500-1960) reveals for the first time the breadth and richness of this body of works. It has led and will continue to lead to the discovery of many works scattered across America, in places as diverse as museums, historic houses, government buildings, corporate collections, and public spaces.
The French Sculpture Census marks an important contribution to the study of the history of taste, the building of American museum collections, the development of the art market, and the transatlantic transit of art.
Its goal is to reach the widest audience possible: museum professionals, scholars, historians, collectors, dealers, and all those interested in French sculpture or wishing to know it better. Currently including approximately 7,300 sculptures, the Census is constantly growing. The ultimate number of works included will likely be between 15 and 20,000.
Please visit the site regularly!
If you wish to bring works to our attention or to add information, please write us at: [email protected].
And if you wish to support the Census, please send your contribution to:
Nasher Sculpture Center
French Sculpture Census
2001 Flora Street
Dallas TX 75201
Institut national d’histoire de l’art
Pour le Répertoire de sculpture française
2 rue Vivienne
Thank you so much!
A FEW EXPLANATIONS
In the general category of "Sculpture" we have included sculptures, medals and plaquettes, Sèvres soft-paste porcelain, sculptures executed in ceramic and, in a few rare cases, functional objects.
"French": The French Connection
Each and every sculpture in the Census has a connection with France!
In the vast majority of cases, the objects' authors are French, by either birth or acquired citizenship. But some works were also created by artists who came to France to work durably or settle permanently.
"American public collections"
The Census includes art museums, science museums, libraries, public institutions, government buildings, historic houses, and public spaces. Corporate collections are included with the prior approval of the company.
For the vast majority of the museums, the collections are comprehensive.
SOME ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
The authorship of each sculpture appears as published by the institution to which it belongs. Please note that the mission of the French Sculpture Census is to compile published information and scholarly opinion on the objects, not to emit a judgement on them.
Its mission is not either to authenticate objects or help in commercial transactions.
The period (century) of a sculpture is that of its model and not that of its execution which may be later. For example, a bust cast in bronze in 1880 after a 1780 model is dated to the eighteenth-century, not the nineteenth-century.
The casting date (execution in bronze) is given whenever it is known.
Museums update their on line information on a regular basis; in case of a precise question, please contact the owning institution directly.
The dimensions are in inches (English version of the website), in centimeters (French version of the website).
The website is bilingual, but some entry texts have not yet been translated into French; French readers, please forgive us.
Images are currently being requested; as for the records themselves, their number will increase constantly.
The image rights for those artists whose work has not yet fallen into the public domain have been cleared through ARS and VAGA. Reproduction, including downloading of the works is prohibited by copyright laws and international conventions without the express written permission of Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, or VAGA, New York.
Rights for a few artists are handled directly by the estates or those who represent them. They have all been contacted. I warmly thank the following entities or persons who have waived reproduction rights:
- The Association Structures sonores Baschet, representing the Brothers Bernard and François Baschet,
- Monsieur Dominique Jean, representing the sculptor Marcel Jean
- Monsieur Paul Laurent, representing the sculptor Robert Laurent,
- Mr. Hanno D. Mott, representing the Lipchitz Estate.
In case of an error in the credits on this website, please write to: [email protected].
The images on this website have been very generously provided without charge by museums themselves. I am happy to express my deepest gratitude for their support of the French Sculpture Census.
I strongly urge viewers not to copy these images. They should, rather, contact museums directly to request images.
How to cite
Thank you for citing the French Sculpture Census as follows:
"frenchsculpture.org, a project by Laure de Margerie, funded by the University of Texas at Dallas, the Nasher Sculpture Center, the Institut national d'histoire de l'art, the Musée d'Orsay, the Ecole du Louvre, and the Musée Rodin, accessed mm/dd/yyyy."
1. Jean-Antoine HOUDON, George Washington, Richmond, Capitol (ph. Wikimedia, Albert Herring)
2. Frédéric-Auguste BARTHOLDI, Statue of Liberty, New York, Liberty Island (ph. Wikimedia, http://www.flickr.com/photos/featherboa/43040507/)
One of the amazing resources at the archives of the Musée d'Orsay (ill.) in Paris (where I worked for more than thirty years) is its geographical file (ill.) inventorying nineteenth-century French sculptures all over the world. Instituted by curators Anne Pingeot and Antoinette Le Normand-Romain and by myself, it comprises approximately 100,000 photographs.
Bearing this in mind, while staying in 2001 at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts, I took full benefit of its extensive art library and started a comprehensive census of nineteenth-century French sculpture in American museums. The French Sculpture Census was born.
In 2009, when settling in Dallas, I revived the project, asleep since 2001, broadening its scope to include sculptures from 1500 to 1960 and to cover all public collections: museums, public institutions, historic houses, public spaces, etc. I also decided that the Census would be accessible to all, free of charge, through a website. Professor Richard R. Brettell, The Margaret McDermott Distinguished Chair, Art and Aesthetics at the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD), enthusiastically approved the project when I presented it to him. By contributing part of the funds from his Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Museums (CISM), he allowed the Census to become a reality.
One after another, French and American partners joined the project, providing further financial support: the Musée d’Orsay (Paris), the National Institute for Art History (INHA, Paris), the Nasher Sculpture Center (Dallas), the Ecole du Louvre (Paris) and recently, the Musée Rodin (Paris). American museums asked to take part.
In 2010, the Nasher Sculpture Center offered to host the website, thus ensuring the primary goal of universal access.
In 2011, the Sculpture and Decorative Arts Department of the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles invited me to be its guest scholar. My residence at the Getty enabled me to study the museum's very rich artist files, built in the mid 1970s by sculpture curator Peter Fusco.
In December 2014, after five years of work, the Census and its first 7,000 records go live on line.
Thousands more will come.
Laure de Margerie
1. Musée d'Orsay, Paris (ph. Wikimedia, dalbera)
2. Geographical file, Sculpture archives, Paris, Musée d'Orsay (ph. Nadège Horner)
INITIATOR AND DIRECTOR OF PROJECT
Laure de MARGERIE
on the American side:
- Valerie FLETCHER, Senior Curator, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.
- June HARGROVE, Professor of 19th c. Art History, University of Maryland, College Park, MD
- Mary LEVKOFF, Hearst Castle Museum Director, San Simeon, CA
- Anne POULET, Former Director, Frick Collection, New York
on the French side:
- Geneviève BRESC-BAUTIER, Emeritus Director of the Sculpture Department, Musée du Louvre, Paris
- Brigitte LÉAL, Director of collections, National Museum of Modern Art, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris
- Antoinette LE NORMAND-ROMAIN, General Director,of the Institut national d’histoire de l’art, Paris
- Anne PINGEOT, Emeritus Sculpture Curator, Musée d’Orsay, Paris
Gina GRANGER, Detroit, Michigan
INTERNS FROM THE ÉCOLE DU LOUVRE
(two months each average)
- Laureen BARDOU, in Washington: The French sculpture collections at the National Gallery, Washington, D.C.
- Alexa CATALAN, in Dallas: Data preparation for on line posting of the French Sculpture Census
- Anne-Laure GARREC, in Dallas: A late example of French Art déco in Dallas: Pierre Bourdelle, Raoul Josset, Joseph Martin at Fair Park
- Margaux PEREZ, in Chicago: The French exhibits at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, their reception and their fate
- Nelly TARAVEL, in Boston: The French sculpture collections at the museums of Boston and its vicinity
- Ana BELTRAN, in New York: The French exhibits at the 1853 Exhibition of the Industry of all Nations in New York, their reception and their fate. The 1855 visit of the French sculptor Antoine Etex to New York and his legal action
- Charlotte QUIBLIER, in Dallas: Insertion of images in a database, technical and legal aspects
- Charlotte QUIBLIER, in New York: Vocabulary and innovations: how to describe 20th century abstract sculptures
- Anaïs QUINSAT, in Philadelphia: Rodin's fortunes in the US: the example of the Rodin Museum in Philadelphia
- Marie-Claire RODRIGUEZ, in Pittsburgh: The French exhibits at the Carnegie International Expositions in Pittsburgh, their reception and their fate
- Katell SINOU, in San Francisco: The French exhibits at the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco, their reception and their fate
- Clémentine DELPLANCQ, in New York: Survey of French sculpture in New York City, in museums not yet catalogued, in cultural institutions, in outdoor space, and on architecture
- Camille JOLIN, in Philadelphia: The French exhibits at the Centennial International Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876, their reception and their fate
- Pauline PARENT, in New York: Between Paris and New York, the life and work of the sculptor Joseph-Charles de Blezer
- Clémentine PERRIER, in Los Angeles : Completion of the existing files and creation of the 438 medal files at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art
- Coralie MOUTON, in Dallas: The French Sculpture Collection at the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University and at the Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ. French sculpture on SOS! (Save Outdoor Sculpture!) website.
OTHER INTERNS AND VOLUNTEERS
- Charline FOURNIER-PETIT, Chicago: Database entries (volunteer since April 2014)
- Gabriel MESLAY, Sciences Politiques, Reims: Database entries, web launch preparation (intern June 2014)
- Aurore de NEUVILLE, Boston: Sculpture in the Boston Area (volunteer since March 2015)
May this great team be warmly thanked for its support and its contribution to the French Sculpture Census!
1. Laure de Margerie, in front of Night by Aristide Maillol, Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas (ph. Olivier Meslay).