Jean-Jacques Caffieri is a famous French sculptor of the 18th century, a prominent representative of academicism. Jean-Jacques Caffieri became famous for the production of marble bust images of outstanding figures of culture and science, sculptural compositions on biblical and mythological themes. The best masterpieces of the master’s work today adorn the collections of the largest French museums, and his biography is an example of the successful career of a talented and hardworking artist.
Jean-Jacques Caffieri was the most famous, but far from the only representative of the family sculptor dynasty. In addition to him, significant contributions to French art were made by his grandfather Philippe (Philippe Caffieri), uncle François-Charles (François-Charles Caffieri), father Jacques (Jacques Caffieri), cousins Charles-Philippe (Charles-Philippe Caffieri) and Charles-Marie (Charles-Marie Caffieri), as well as his older brother Philippe (Philippe Caffieri).
Biography of Jean-Jacques Caffieri
Jean-Jacques Caffieri was born on April 29, 1725 in Paris into a family of immigrants from Italy. His grandfather Philip, back in 1660, at the invitation of Cardinal Mazarin, came to France, got married and stayed here to live forever. The first mentor of Jean-Jacques was his father, who taught his son the basics of sculptural art in his workshop.
But to get a professional education, classes with my father were not enough. Therefore, at the age of 16, Jean-Jacques entered the National Academy of Arts, in the class of Professor Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne (Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne). Under the guidance of an experienced master, Caffieri won the competition for the Rome Prize in 1748 and left for the Italian capital to continue his studies in the homeland of Michelangelo and Donatello.
The artist lived on the Apennine Peninsula until 1753, and then returned to Paris and until the end of his life did not leave his native city. He was never married and had no children, fully devoting his life to serving the arts. The first sculptural compositions Kaffieri created while studying in Italy, but the works of the early period of the master’s work have not survived to this day.
1757 was a turning point in the artist’s career.
It was then that Jean-Jacques Caffieri was awarded the title of honorary member of the Royal Academy of Arts, and his creations were first exhibited at the Paris Salon. Since then, the master constantly took part in annual exhibitions, acquired the patronage of Louis XV and was soon appointed to the prestigious position of court sculptor.
On behalf of the monarch, the artist started making sculptures for the Comédie-Française. For the decorative decoration of the interior of the famous theater, Kaffieri created a number of busts and monuments of outstanding artists: artists, composers and playwrights. In recognition of his merits, the management of the Comedie Française granted the artist a lifetime right of free admission to all performances.
In 1773, Jean-Jacques Caffieri became a professor at the Royal Academy of Arts and held this position for almost 20 years, and among his students, Jean-Joseph Foucou should be especially noted. But Kaffieri gained the greatest fame thanks to the creation of a series of portrait busts of his contemporaries in a somewhat idealized manner.
The last years of the master’s life fell on the troubled times of the Great French Revolution. The authoritative sculptor had a hard time going through the collapse of the old order, lost most of his customers and, a few years before his death, stopped taking part in the Paris Salons. And on April 21, 1792, Jean-Jacques Caffieri died at his home at the age of 67. Unfortunately, the grave of the outstanding artist has not survived to this day.
The most famous works of Jean-Jacques Caffieri
The brilliant French sculptor has created over a hundred beautiful masterpieces of his work over a long career. And yet, some of the most famous works of Jean-Jacques Caffieri include:
- The Deity of the River (1759) is a sculptural composition on a mythological theme, for which the artist received the title of a full member of the Academy of Arts. Today it decorates one of the halls of the famous Louvre.
- “Bust-Portrait of a Young Woman” (1770) is a beautiful image of a young contemporary of the master, made of baked clay. The heroine’s modest gaze is directed away from the viewer, and her face is the personification of tenderness and feminine beauty.
- “Pierre Corneille” (1779) is a sculptural monument to the founder of the French tragedy. The artist depicted a playwright with a feather in his hand, sitting in an armchair in moments of meditation on another ingenious masterpiece.
- “Jean-Baptiste Moliere” (1787) is a sculptural portrait of the great comedian in ceremonial attire. Despite the fact that Moliere was only 51 years old at the time of his death, the sculptor portrayed the character in the form of a wise old man, tired of everyday worries.