In a niche is a Houdon bust of Lafayette, a replica of the original presented to the city of Paris by the state of Virginia.
JEAN ANTOINE HOUDON (1740-1828), French sculptor, was born at Versailles on the 18th of March 1740.
Peopled the gardens of Versailles rather than by the lessons of his masters, delighted Pope Clement XIV., who, on seeing the St Bruno executed by Houdon for the church of St Maria degli Angeli, said "he would speak, were it not that the rules of his order impose silence."
In Italy Houdon had lived in the presence of that second Renaissance with which the name of Winckelmann is associated, and the direct and simple treatment of the Morpheus which he sent to the Salon of 1771 bore witness to its influence.
Between these dates Houdon had not been idle; busts of Catharine II., Diderot and Prince Galitzin were remarked at the Salon of 1773, and at that of 1775 he produced, not only his Morpheus in marble, but busts of Turgot, Gluck (in which the marks of small-pox in the face were reproduced with striking effect) and Sophie Arnould as Iphigeneia (now in the Wallace Collection, London), together with his well-known marble relief, "Grive suspendue par les pattes."