In a bust half life-size a man of about fifty is portrayed looking ahead and slightly to his left. He wears a wig with two long horizontal curls over each ear and the rest of the hair pulled back and tied at the nape of his neck with a bow. His eyes, which have a lively, amused expression, are...
In a bust half life-size a man of about fifty is portrayed looking ahead and slightly to his left. He wears a wig with two long horizontal curls over each ear and the rest of the hair pulled back and tied at the nape of his neck with a bow. His eyes, which have a lively, amused expression, are deeply cut with a small circle of marble left just under the lid to indicate the irises. The mouth is tightly closed with the beginning of a smile expressed at the corners. The flesh on the cheeks and neck is loose, the soft folds protruding slightly over his high, finely pleated stock. A double-edged ruffled jabot and a plain vest are worn under a simply cut coat of a heavy material with a wide notched collar. The semicircular truncation of the bust cuts through the sitter's upper arms and mid-torso.
Signed and dated on back of truncation: houdon,f.1786.
1925, La Bouillerie, Crosmière, Sarthe, France; December 4, 1925, La Bouillerie sale, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, lot 17 bis [see note 1]. Until 1937, David David-Weill (b. 1871 - d. 1952), Neuilly-sur-Seine, France [see note 2]; 1937, sold by David-Weill to Wildenstein and Company, New York [see note 3]; October 28, 1943, sold by Wildenstein to Forsyth Wickes (b. 1876 - d. 1964), New York and Newport, RI; 1965, bequest of Forsyth Wickes to the MFA. (Accession Date: December 24, 1965) NOTES:  Sold as "Petit buste ... représentant Monsieur de Biré ... Appartient à N. de X...". See "The Forsyth Wickes Collection" (Boston, 1972), p. 157, cat. no. 104.  David David-Weill was an important figure in the art world, forming a large collection of eighteenth-century French paintings and sculpture and other works of art, as well as serving as the President du Conseil des Musées de France. In 1937 he sold many objects from his collection to Wildenstein and Company (see below, n. 2). Subsequently, when France fell to Germany in 1940, David-Weill fled Paris. At this time, much of his collection was seized by the Nazis. Many of these objects were returned to him following the war. Because this sculpture had been sold to Wildenstein in 1937, it was not among David-Weill's possessions during World War II and was not subject to Nazi looting.  See "Sale of the David-Weill Collection," Art News, February 27, 1937, pp. 12, 20.
Bequest of Forsyth Wickes—The Forsyth Wickes Collection