Bust of Diderot

Jean-Antoine Houdon
(1741-1828)
18th century, bronze patina plaster

The bust, executed by sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon, portrays Diderot (1713-1784), one of the greatest representatives of French Enlightenment.
The work was presented in the form of a terracotta version at the Salon in 1769 and proved highly successful. So much so that a number of copies were made in plaster, terracotta and bronze. In the case of this statue, the plaster was

enhanced with a bronze patina, so that the bust would seem made of the more noble metal.  The portrait of Diderot appears to have been executed with profound psychological introspection, and the facial features have been faithfully captured.