A philosopher, playwright, poet, historian, sociologist and pamphleteer, Voltaire has become the symbol of the spirit of France in the Age of Enlightenment.
With the writer's triumphant return to Paris in February 1778, Jean-Antoine Houdon was finally able to eternize the writer's traits and thus complete the series of his portraits of great men.
The artist made several busts, different from each other by laying and the material. In this version, Voltaire wears the clothes of time and a wig. The sarcastically amused expression, this famous "Voltairian"grin, is captured in marble and characterizes the almost palpable image of the intelligence of the great man. The taut skin of the emaciated face covers the cheekbone bones. The prominent eyebrows, the immense forehead and the expression of the gaze are indeed those of an extraordinary character. It seems that something has just caught his attention or that he is about to intervene in the middle of a discussion. His spirit thus always seems to be alert.
The success of Houdon's Voltaire busts explains the large number of authentic replicas or copies from his workshop that have survived to this day.
Reproduction in patinated marble plaster
Height: 34 cm.
Width: 21 cm.
Depth: 15 cm.
Artistic current: XVIIIth century
Artist: Jean-Antoine Houdon (1741-1828)
Museum: Paris - Louvre Museum