Jean-Antoine Houdon (French, 1741-1828), Seated Voltaire, bronze sculpture, 26 1/2". With a Barbedienne foundry mark. Inscribed "Houdon Fecit 1781". Also marked "A. Manigot" on base. Houdon's depiction of the celebrated philospher François-Marie Arouet, called Voltaire, are among his most iconic images. His bust, executed in marble and placed on view in the artist's studio in March 1778 was viewed by 'all of Paris', and the full-size seated figure was completed for Voltaire's niece, Mme Denis, by 1780 (Jean-Antoine Houdon - Sculptor of the Enlightenment, op. cit., p. 349). Interestingly, the full-size model was actually preceded by a small gilt-bronze version made for the Russian Empress Catherine the Great, one of the philosopher's most devoted correspondents and admirers. COMPARATIVE LITERATURE: L. Réau, Houdon - son vie et son oeuvre, Paris, 1964, III and IV, no. 35, p. 19, pls. XXX and XXXI. Washington, Los Angeles and Versailles, National Gallery of Art, J. Paul Getty Museum and the Musée et Domaine de Versailles, Jean-Antoine Houdon - Sculptor of the Enlightenment, 4 May 2003 - 25 January 2004.