Marie-Anne Collot

French, 1748-1821

Marie was one of the brave—and one of the first—18th-century women to practice the “dirty” art of sculpture. It was a profession that was born out of necessity; at a young age she became responsible for supporting her family. She started work as an artist’s model but soon began to learn the art of sculpting. Her image in Jane’s painting, with swept-up hair covered by a cloth, represents her involvement in this medium. To her left are portrait busts of her promoters and colleagues. They include her teacher Etienne-Maurice Falconet, the philosopher Denis Diderot, and Catherine II. These works were among those that earned her the reputation as an artist who accurately captured the character of an individual in stone. Her brief career of 13 years culminated in Russia where her talent in relaying facial expressions led to her producing the head for the equestrian portrait of Peter the Great. Marie ended her career as a sculptor when the need to serve as a caretaker for ailing family members became a higher priority for her than the production of art.

Ibid 200.

Original Works Referenced

Pierre-Etienne Falconet
Portrait of Marie-Anne Collot
1773
St. Petersburg
State Russian Museum

Portrait of Catherine II
1769
St. Petersburg
State Hermitage Museum

Portrait of Denis Diderot
1772
St. Petersburg
State Hermitage Museum

Portrait of Etienne-Maurice Falconet
1773
St. Petersburg
State Hermitage Museum