Allegory of Sculpture and Architecture
French School (Early 18th Century)
Oil on canvas.
Painting size: 25” x 34”
Frame size: 30” x 39.25 ”
These sumptuous female figures serve as allegories for two prized arts in France at the turn of the 18th century. On the left is sculpture, signified by a chisel in her hands. She sits beside a pair of Roman busts, one overturned, the other sporting a helmet possibly representing Pallas Athene. On the right is Architecture, holding a measuring device to assess a building plan spread across her lap.
Baroque French artists were deeply influenced by the sculpture and architecture of Ancient Greece and Rome, giving rise to a style known as Neoclassicism. During this era France also saw major building campaigns, vividly exemplified by the transformation of Louis 14th favorite hunting lodge at Versailles into a lavish royal residence, complete with extensive gardens decorated with sculptures of classical figures and forms.
While these figures allude to antiquity, their sweet- faced appearance along with the use of soft pastels suggest a merging of French Neoclassicism with the more lighthearted Rococo style.