Pajou – Masters Of Painting

WITH all her faults Madame du Barry was, according to a late biographer, far from being as black as she was painted.

At all events, she appears to have possessed some taste in literature, possibly, also, in art. Her books included translations of Shakespeare, Robertson’s “History of Charles V.,” Bishop Burnet, and Sir John Mandeville ; the memoirs of Brantôme, Bassompiere, and D’Angouleme ; lives of Turenne and Marshal Saxe ; the travels of Chardin, Kemper, and La Condamine ; the ” Golden Ass,” Marcus Aurelius, and Epictetus. She chose to have her portrait painted by Drouais, her bust modelled by Pajou, and works by both these artists, with others by Fragonard, Restout, Vasse, and Lecomte, decorated her villa at Louveciennes.

The spacious and richly decorated salon shown in M. Cain’s picture contains a brilliant company of courtiers and fashionables, not forgetting some representatives of the Church, who are watching the sculptor at work on a bust of the reigning favorite of Louis “the Well – beloved.” Madame du Barry sits on a dars with her negro page, Zamor, at her feet, while an abbe beguiles the tedium of the pose by reading. The superb marble bust now in the Louvre, which was the result of these sittings, is one of the happiest efforts of Pajou, who was especially fortunate in his portraits of women. It was modelled in his prime, in 1773, the year be-fore the death of the king, and a score of years before the head of Du Barry fell beneath the stroke of the guillotine.

The sculptor, more fortunate than his lovely sitter, escaped any danger which may have menaced him during the Terror because of royal patronage, and lived until 1809.

Augustin Pajou was born at Paris in 1730, and manifested such a decided talent for sculpture that he was placed at an early age under the teaching of Le Moyne. His progress was so rapid that he won the grand prize of the Academy when only eighteen years of age, On returning from a stay of a dozen years in Rome, he soon gained reputation and success, and in 1767 was appointed professor of sculpture in the Academy of Fine Arts in Paris.

His statue of Psyche is in the Louvre, and numerous decorative sculptures from his hand may be seen in the palace at Versailles. He executed the monument to Marie Leczinska, queen of Louis XV., a group of ” Pluto Holding Cerberus in Chains,” and another of a ” Bacchante with Infants,” and statues of Pascal, Descartes, Turenne, Bossuet, and Fenelon.

A bronze medal was awarded at the Paris Exposition of 1889 to Georges Cain, who exhibited there, among other works, this picture of Pajou modelling the Du Barry. Cain, who first drew breath in Paris in 1856, studied under Cabanel and Detaille. He has painted ” A Barricade in 1830 ” (this picture was sent by him to the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1893), “A Quarrel at the Cafe de la Rotonde,” Napoleon after his Abdication,” “A Marriage under the Directory,” “A Bulletin from the Army of Italy,” and ” Le Bust de Marat aux pilfers des halles.” Some years ago, the post of director of the Musee Carnavelet being vacant, it fortunately occurred to the authorities to appoint Georges Cain to the place, and the result was satisfactory in the highest degree.