Metropolitan Museum of Art Cast Collection




A plaster cast of a portrait-bust of Voltaire housed in the Palace at Versailles in France circa 1782.

Publication Date


Type of Artwork

Portrait bust

Time Period/Geographical Region

Renaissance Europe

Height (cm/in)

66.04 cm / 26 in

Width (cm/in)

48.26 cm / 19 in

Depth (cm/in)

30.48 cm / 12 in


Ancient History, Greek and Roman through Late Antiquity | Sculpture


Marble portrait-bust is in the Palace of Versailles, 1782 by Houdon (1741-1828). Houdon was a French sculptor whose business was sculpting naturalistic busts of the greatest personalities of the time. The mediums of plaster, marble and bronze grasps the truth of every one of his subjects. The analytical realism in Voltair's face was achieved by using casts of his subjects face. The subject need not be alive during the casting process. Houdon was also responsible for creating a life size sculpture of George Washington. Houdon once said, "One of the finest attributes of the difficult art of sculpture, is to preserve with all the realism of form, and to render almost immortal the image of the men who have contributed to the glory of the happiness of their country. This idea constantly occupied me and encouraged me in my painstaking work."



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