French Sculpture Census

photo credit : Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington
artist © : public domain

CLODION, Claude MICHEL called,
Nancy, Meurthe-et-Moselle 1738 - Paris 1814

Modèle pour "La Poésie et la Musique"
Model for "Poetry and Music"


10 5/8 x 9 3/16 x 6 1/8
on reverse of rock: CLODION

Acc. No. : 1976.10.1
Credit Line : Loula D. Lasker Fund

Washington, D.C., District of Columbia, The National Gallery of Art


  • 1920, 14 June, Paris, Galerie Georges Petit, Sale, n. 132 (purchased by David David-Weill, Neuilly-sur-Seine)
  • 1920-1937, Neuilly-sur-Seine, David David-Weill Collection
  • 1937, sold to Wildenstein & Co., New York
  • 1940, New York, Wildenstein, exhibited with David-Weill collection for sale
  • New York, Jacques Helft & Co.
  • 1944, 18 December, sold to Mrs. Forsyth Wickes New York, Rosenberg & Stiebel
  • 1976, Purchased by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, Loula D. Lasker Fund


  • Museum's website, 20 July 2011
  • 1951 Seymour
    Paintings and Scupture from the Kress Collection Acquired by the Samuel. H. Kress Foundation 1945-1951, National Gallery of Artn Smithsonian Institution, Washington, 1951, p. 260
  • 1970 Hodgekinson
    Terence Hodgekinson, The James A. de Rothschild Collection at Waddesdon Manor, London, 1970, p. 18-19
  • 1972 Kalnein and Levey
    Wend Graf Kalnein and Michael Levey, Art and Architecture of the Eighteenth Century in France, Harmondsworth, 1972, p. 100
  • 1986 Ford
    Terrence Ford, complier and ed., Inventory of Music Iconography, n. 1, National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York 1986, n. 162
  • 1992 NGA Washington
    National Gallery of Art, Washington, National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992, p. 302, repr.
  • 1993 Bailey
    Colin Bailey, "Mécénat privé? Mécénat public? L'abbé Terray, collectionneur de sculptures contemporaines." In Clodion et la sculpture française de la fin du XVIIIe siècle. Actes du colloque organisé au musée du Louvre par le service culturel les 20 et 21 mars 1992, Paris, 1993, p. 203, p. 219 n. 35
  • 1994 NGA Washington
    Sculpture: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1994, 45, repr.
  • 2005 Wildenstein
    The Arts of France from François Ier to Napoléon Ier. A Centennial Celebration of Wildenstein's Presence in New York, Exh. cat. Wildenstein & Co., Inc., New York, 2005, p. 79 (not in the exhibition).


  • 1940 New York
    French XVIIIth Century formerly of the David-Weill Collection, Wildenstein & Co., New York, April 1940, n. 38
  • 1992 Paris
    Clodion 1738-1814, édité par Guilhem Scherf et Anne L. Poulet, Paris, Musée du Louvre, 17 mars-29 juin 1992, n° 63, repr.

Related Works

Clodion, Poetry and Music, the finished marble, 1952.5.98, in the same museum.


Museum's website, 20 July 2011:
Clodion specialized in small-scale terracotta figure groups, often with playfully erotic subjects loosely based on ancient myths concerning the wine god Bacchus and his devotees. Intended for enjoyment at close range in elegant domestic settings, these inventions were the fruits of years of study in Italy. Although signed and clearly meant to be preserved, this example was sculpted as a model for a large-scale work in marble. The National Gallery also owns the finished marble, one of the few such commissions to Clodion that have survived. This rare pairing of a terracotta model and a finished marble in one collection permits a fascinating insight into the design's development.
The marble Poetry and Music was one of four groups symbolizing the arts and sciences, ordered by the Abbé Joseph-Marie Terray to decorate the dining room of his Parisian mansion, celebrating his appointment as Director of the Royal Buildings in 1774. In realizing these plump little figures, Clodion made knowing use of terracotta's effectiveness for representing flesh, with soft, pliant forms and even a pinkish color. Particularly engaging is the children's absorbed concentration. Poetry, with head on hand, devours a book, while Music strums his stringed instrument and sings with head thrown back.