Bust of a Gentleman
Jean-Jacques Caffìéri (1725-1792) or studio of
1781, White marble
This gentleman, dressed in a lace-collared shirt (à col de dentelle) with a scarf softly knotted around his neck, is depicted frontally, his head turned slightly to the left with a hint of a smile on his lips; some ringed curls frame his face, while others fall over his shoulders. The portrait is surprising in its spontaneity – in order to suggest informality, Caffiéri has portrayed his sitter in a fleeting pose, as if he has been captured in a photograph. In his portraits, the artist insisted on absolute fidelity to the model's features, which would also reflect their character, confirming his keen interest in Enlightenment psychology. In 1748, Caffiéri won the prestigious Prix de Rome while in Italy, where he had travelled to study ancient art. On his return to France, he joined the Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture in 1759 and was appointed Sculpteur du Roi by Louis XV, later working for the Louvre and the Palais-Royal.