François Girardon

(1628 - 1715)


François Girardon (10 March 1628 – 1 September 1715) was a French sculptor best known for his statues and busts of Louis XIV and for his statuary in the gardens of the Palace of Versailles.

The son of a foundry worker he was born at Troyes in 1628 and trained as a joiner and woodcarver. His talent attracted the attention of the chancellor of the Académie Royale, Pierre Séguier, a serious patron of the arts, who arranged for him to work in the studio of François Anguier, and later, from 1648 to 1650 to live and apprentice in Rome.

In 1650 he returned to France, and became a member of the group of artists, led by Charles Le Brun, the official painter of the King, and including the garden designer André Le Nôtre, who were commissioned to decorate the new royal park of the Chateau of Versailles.
Girardon rose steadily in the official artistic hierarchy. He became a member of the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture in 1657, was raised to professor, in 1674 assistant to the Rector. In 1690, on the death of Le Brun, he became inspector general of works of sculpture, governing all royal sculptural commissions. In 1695, he became Chancellor of the Royal Academy.

As well as one of the most celebrated sculptors of his day Giradon was also an avid art collector. At his death, he owned about eight hundred sculptures, a collection second only to that of Louis XIV.