Claude Munier, Bust of a gentleman, 1780

Claude Munier (Maison-du-Bois-Lièvremont, active in 1780)

Terracotta and marble peduccio;

Signature engraved on the back: "Claude Munier / Contois de naisons F 1780"


The terracotta bust, placed on a peduccio in colored marble, represents a male character with hair held in a tail by a ribbon and is dressed in a collarless tailcoat closed with frogs with applied tassels and embroidery along the edges, an undershirt with analogues embroidery at the neck and a lace tie.

The sculptor signs himself on the back of the bust, indicating his full name, and proclaiming himself “contois” that is a native of Bourgogne Franche-Comté, a region located in the 25th Department of Doubs located in eastern France and also specifies the native country “Naisons” .
On the back, the author incorrectly writes both “contois” and “Naisons” instead of “comtois” and “Maisons”. Using this information, it is possible to trace the place indicated as Maisons-du-Bois-Lièvremont, a small village in Bourgogne Franche-Comté.
Considering the little importance of the small village where he was born in the eighteenth century, this writing should be interpreted as celebrating his origins, as he certainly had to work in a more prestigious center.

The historical-artistic information about Claude Munier is equally mysterious. In an article published in “L’Intermédiaire des chercheurs et curieux” in 1908, Charles Oulmont (Mulhouse 1883 – Pontoise 1984), writer and famous French art collector of the eighteenth century whose works were donated by donation to various French museums such as the Musée des Beaux-Arts of Strasbourg, Mulhouse and Besançon, asks for news of this sculptor of whom he knows two terracotta busts: the first a “superb buste de Voltaire” signed on the back “Munier fecit”, and the second a portrait of a comedian, signed and dated on the base “Claude Munier 1780” 1.
Thanks to this information we are able to reconstruct a first corpus of this artist, although these two works are still unknown and therefore the terracotta portrait presented here is today the only known work by Munier.
Considering the important studies of the last decades on French sculpture of the eighteenth century, the lack of knowledge of this figure may be due both to his origin from a small village in the east of France, and to taking into consideration adverse events that may have compromised his life, leading him to premature death. In support of this possibility it can be noted that even the bust of a comedian, traced by Oulmont, bore the same date – 1780 – as ours, further demonstrating how his activity perhaps had to take place in a few years.

Dimensions: 78 x 49 x 35 cm


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