French Sculpture Census

crédits photo : Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas
© artiste : public domain

HOUDON, Jean-Antoine
Versailles, Yvelines 1741 - Paris 1828

Aymard-Jean de Nicolay (1709-1785), Premier Président de la Chambre des Comptes
Aymard-Jean de Nicolay (1709-1785), First President of the Chambre des Comptes

1779
marbre

buste
90,0 x 74,0 ; sans piédouche : H. 79,5
signé et daté sous la coupe du bras à gauche : F[AIT].P[AR]. HOUDON EN 1779
inscrit à droite : MESSIRE AYMARD JEAN NICOLAY P[remi]er. P[résiden]t.

N° d'inv. : AP 1991.01
Credit Line : Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas

Fort Worth, Texas, Kimbell Art Museum

www.kimbellart.org

Historique

  • 1779, sculpté pour Aymard-Jean de Nicolay, marquis de Goussainville [1709-1785]
  • Paris, par descendance à Aymard, comte et marquis de Nicolay [né 1832]
  • Paris et Cannes, sa fille, comtesse de Contades, née Marie de Nicolay [1873-1944], et son mari, comte Gaston de Contades [1866-1953]
  • Paris, leur fils, comte André Marie Arthur Aymard de Contades [1900-1958]
  • Ses héritiers
  • Paris, Moatti S. A.
  • 1991, acheté par la Kimbell Art Foundation, Fort Worth

Bibliographie

  • Museum's website, 29 April 2010
  • 1964 Réau
    Louis Réau, Houdon : sa vie et son oeuvre, Paris, 1964, vol. I, p. 118 no. 33, 119, 331 ; vol. II, p. 38 no. 168
  • 1975 Arnason
    H.H. Arnason, The Sculptures of Houdon, London, Phaidon, 1975, p. 46, 47, 64, 111 (note 108), fig. 104, plate 44
  • 1991 Murat
    Laure Murat, Grandes demeures de France, photographies de Robert Schezen, Paris, Arthaud, 1991, p. 123 (shows the bust still in the Château de Brissac, in Anjou)
  • 2000 Sister Wendy
    Sister Wendy Beckett, Sister Wendy's American Collection, New York, 2000, p. 218, ill.
  • 2003 Potts
    Kimbell Art Museum: Handbook of the Collection, Editor: Timothy Potts, Director, 2003, p. 108-109, repr.

Exposition

  • 1779 Paris
    Salon de 1779, Paris, n° 216
  • 1928 Paris
    Centenaire de Houdon, Paris, Galerie Buvelot, n° 57

Oeuvres en rapport

Plâtre au musée du Louvre, Paris (RF 2453, don de Louis et Lucien Guiraud, 1936).
Le buste est visible à l'arrière-plan de deux tableaux de Boilly montrant l'atelier de Houdon et dans un portrait du fils du modèle par le peintre Roslin (1785).

Commentaire



Museum's website, 29 April 2010:
In his portraits of the men of letters and nobility of the Enlightenment, Houdon created an entirely new genre, in which he achieved spontaneity and informality of expression without compromising the decorous and elevated presentation of his sitters. His bust of Aymard-Jean de Nicolay, marquis de Goussainville (1709–1785), was exhibited in the Salon of 1779, where it was described as “joining to the most perfect resemblance an elegance and nobility of form.” Nicolay was a member of the noblesse de robe, nobility whose judicial and administrative function dated back to the sixteenth century. As First President of the Chambre des Comptes, he was the senior official at the sovereign court responsible for the royal accounts and for the registration of all laws touching upon the Crown’s domain, a position that had been held by his family since 1506.

It is in the carving of Nicolay’s face and hair that Houdon’s genius as a portraitist is most fully engaged. The treatment of the eyes is particularly masterful. He first cut out the entire iris, then bored a deeper hole for the pupil, taking care to leave a small fragment of marble to overhang the iris. The effect is a vivacity and mobility of expression that was acclaimed even in the artist’s own time; it was noted that Houdon was perhaps the first sculptor in the history of art who knew how to render eyes.