The Lamentation of the Body of Christ by François Barrois Pre-Empted by the Louvre

1. François Barrois (1656-1726)
The Lamentation of the Body of Christ
Marbre - 112 x 72 cm
Paris, Musée du Louvre
Photo : Piasa

31/12/13 - Acquisition - Paris, Musée du Louvre - We cannot help but hope that certain works which come up for auction will be pre-empted by a museum. This was indeed the case for the study by Jules Elie Delaunay acquired finally by Compiègne (see news item of 21/12/13) and it was also our wish for the very beautiful marble relief of the Lamentation of the Body of Christ by François Barrois, a sculptor active under Louis XIV, offered by Piasa last 18 December which we could totally imagine joining the collections at the Louvre.

We are therefore very pleased to see that the Département des sculptures used its pre-emption rights to acquire this work for 74,890€ (including charges). This relief is a welcome addition to a very limited ensemble established by François Souchal in his French Sculptors of the 17th and 18th Centuries : The Reign of Louis XIV [1] which provides very little information concerning his career : second Prix de Rome in 1682 (Nicolas Coustou was awarded first place), he was in residence in Rome from 1683 to 1686. He produced notably a vase for the park in Versailles, ornamental sculptures for the Grand Trianon, the chapel in the château at Versailles and on the dome of the Invalides.
The Louvre already held a copy of the Venus Callipyge sculpted during his stay in Rome and his reception piece for the Academy in 1700 : Cleopatra. Barrois was captured in a beautiful portrait by Charles Etienne Geuslin (ill. 2), residing at Versailles which shows the sculptor holding a model of Faith sculpted for the Invalides.

2. Charles-Étienne Geuslin (1685-1765)
Portrait of François Barrois
Oil on canvas - 130 x 97 cm
Versailles, Musée national du château
Photo : RMN-GP/D. Arnaudet

At the Salon of 1704, François Barrois exhibited a "marble bas-relief of a Virgin at the foot of the Cross holding her dead son on her lap". This is perhaps a variation of this work as the iconography does not correspond exactly (here, Saint John is holding the dead Christ). However, we cannot absolutely exclude an approximation of the documented report and this might in fact be the sculpture presented in 1704. As pointed out to us by Françoise de la Moureyre, the artist was close to Girardon (he executed two terms representing Vertumnus and Pomona after his models for the Tuileries gardens) and this Lamentation shows the influence of this second sculptor on François Barrois.

Version française

Didier Rykner, mardi 31 décembre 2013


[1] Vol. 1, pp. 31-38. An addendum in vol. 4 clarifies that his name is indeed Barrois, and not Barois. We would like to thank Françoise de la Moureyre for her help.

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