Since Houdon's visit to America in 1785 and the creation of his Portrait of General Washington (Richmond) (ill.), since the French nation's gift to America of the Statue of Liberty in 1886 (ill.), French sculpture has held a special place in the United States. The Census of French Sculpture in American Public Collections (1500-1960) reveals for the first time the breadth and richness of this body of works. It has led and will continue to lead to the discovery of many works scattered across America, in places as diverse as museums, historic houses, government buildings, corporate collections, and public spaces.
The French Sculpture Census marks an important contribution to the study of the history of taste, the building of American museum collections, the development of the art market, and the transatlantic transit of art.
Its goal is to reach the widest audience possible: museum professionals, scholars, historians, collectors, dealers, and all those interested in French sculpture or wishing to know it better. Currently including approximately 12,900 sculptures, the Census is constantly growing. The ultimate number of works included will likely be between 15 and 20,000.
Please visit the site regularly!
If you wish to bring works to our attention or to add information, please write us at: [email protected].
And if you wish to support the Census, please send your contribution to:
Nasher Sculpture Center
French Sculpture Census
2001 Flora Street
Dallas TX 75201
Institut national d'histoire de l'art
Pour le Répertoire de sculpture française
2 rue Vivienne
Thank you so much!
A FEW EXPLANATIONS
In the general category of Sculpture we have included sculptures, medals and plaquettes, Sèvres soft-paste porcelain, sculptures executed in ceramic and, in a few rare cases, functional objects.
French: The French Connection
Each and every sculpture in the Census has a connection with France!
In the vast majority of cases, the objects' authors are French, by either birth or acquired citizenship. But some works were also created by artists who came to France to work durably or settle permanently.
American public collections
The Census includes art museums, science museums, libraries, public institutions, government buildings, historic houses, and public spaces. Corporate collections are included with the prior approval of the company.For the vast majority of the museums, the collections are comprehensive.
SOME ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
The authorship of each sculpture appears as published by the institution to which it belongs. Please note that the mission of the French Sculpture Census is to compile published information and scholarly opinion on the objects, not to emit a judgement on them.
Its mission is not either to authenticate objects or help in commercial transactions.The period (century) of a sculpture is that of its model and not that of its execution which may be later. For example, a bust cast in bronze in 1880 after a 1780 model is dated to the eighteenth-century, not the nineteenth-century.
The casting date (execution in bronze) is given whenever it is known.
Museums update their on line information on a regular basis; in case of a precise question, please contact the owning institution directly.
The dimensions are in inches (English version of the website), in centimeters (French version of the website).The website is bilingual, but some entry texts have not yet been translated into French; French readers, please forgive us.
Images are currently being requested; as for the records themselves, their number will increase constantly.
Images of artists who are not yet in public domain are posted under the doctrine of Fair Use, as defined in Section 107 of the Copyright Act of 1976.
See two recent publications:
- College Art Association (CAA), Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for the Visual Arts, February 2015
(accessible at: http://www.collegeart.org/pdf/fair-use/best-practices-fair-use-visual-arts.pdf)
- Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD), Guidelines for the use of copyrighted materials and works of art by art museums, October 2017
(accessible at: https://aamd.org/document/guidelines-for-the-use-of-copyrighted-materials-and-works-of-art-by-art-museums).
The images on this website have been very generously provided without charge by museums themselves. I am happy to express my deepest gratitude for their support of the French Sculpture Census.
Images are provided for personal and/or scholarly use only. I strongly urge viewers not to copy these images. They should, rather, contact museums directly to request images.
How to cite
Thank you for citing the French Sculpture Census as follows:
frenchsculpture.org, a project by Laure de Margerie, funded by the Nasher Sculpture Center, the Institut national d'histoire de l'art, the Musée d'Orsay, the Ecole du Louvre, and the Musée Rodin, accessed mm/dd/yyyy.
One of the amazing resources at the archives of the Musée d'Orsay (ill.) in Paris (where I worked for more than thirty years) is its geographical file (ill.) inventorying nineteenth-century French sculptures all over the world. Instituted by curators Anne Pingeot and Antoinette Le Normand-Romain and by myself, it comprises approximately 100,000 photographs.
Bearing this in mind, while staying in 2001 at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts, I took full benefit of its extensive art library and started a comprehensive census of nineteenth-century French sculpture in American museums. The French Sculpture Census was born.
In 2009, when settling in Dallas, I revived the project, asleep since 2001, broadening its scope to include sculptures from 1500 to 1960 and to cover all public collections: museums, public institutions, historic houses, public spaces, etc. I also decided that the Census would be accessible to all, free of charge, through a website.
Professor Richard R. Brettell, The Margaret McDermott Distinguished Chair, Art and Aesthetics at the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD), supported my initiative. One after another, French and American partners joined the project, providing further financial support: the Musée d'Orsay (Paris), the National Institute for Art History (INHA, Paris), the Nasher Sculpture Center (Dallas), the Ecole du Louvre (Paris) and recently, the Musée Rodin (Paris). American museums asked to take part.
In 2010, the Nasher Sculpture Center offered to host the website, thus ensuring the primary goal of universal access.
In 2011, the Sculpture and Decorative Arts Department of the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles invited me to be its guest scholar. My residence at the Getty enabled me to study the museum's very rich artist files, built in the mid 1970s by sculpture curator Peter Fusco.
In December 2014, after five years of work, the Census and its first 7,000 records went live on line.
Since, thousands more have been added and thousands more will be added.
Laure de Margerie