A Terracotta by Godecharle for the Louvre

24/10/13 - Acquisition - Paris, Musée du Louvre - The Département des Sculptures at the Louvre recently purchased a terracotta by the Belgian sculptor Gilles-Lambert Godecharle representing Charity (ill. 1), from the Patrice Bellanger Gallery in Paris.

1. Gilles-Lambert Godecharle (1750-1835)
Charity, 1795
Terre-cuite- 25.5 x 15 x 10 cm
Paris, Musée du Louvre
Photo : Galerie Patrice Bellanger

2. Gilles-Lambert Godecharle (1750-1835)
Charity, 1795
Pierre - H. 164 cm
Bruxelles, Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts
Photo : Michel Wal Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported

Signed and dated 1795, this very accomplished study is closely tied to the stone Charity now residing at the Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts in Brussels (ill. 2) executed the same year. The latter, in a very similar composition, however shows two additional children at the woman’s feet and also presents other variations, notably in the drapery. We should also point out that, according to the entry in the catalogue Autour du néo-classicisme en Belgique [1], a variation of this group, produced later (1815), presents again only two children.
Godecharle was one of the most famous Belgian sculptors of the early 19th century. Initially trained in Brussels under Laurent Delvaux, he then received a scholarship allowing him to come to Paris to study with Jean-Pierre-Antoine Tassaert. He was also close to Jean-Antoine Houdon. Godecharle went to Berlin to work with his master Tassaert, later passing through London and Rome before returning to Brussels where he settled permanently.
Although he evolved to a balanced Neo-Classicism, he "remained a man of the 18th century until the end of his life" [2], representing vestal virgins and nymphs in a Rococo manner filled with putti which brought him close at times to the art of Clodion, while his studio interpreted the works in large formats.
The Charity acquired by the Louvre corresponds to this pleasant and merry aesthetic. The museum already holds, since 2001, another terracotta group representing Pan Chasing Syrinx which recalls rather the art of Bernini.

Version française

Didier Rykner, vendredi 25 octobre 2013


[1] Under the supervision of Denis Coekelberghs and Pierre Loze, 1770-1830. Autour du néo-classicisme en Belgique, 1985, p. 112. The biographical elements in this news item were drawn from this publication.

[2] Op. cit.

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