Among her many sitters was Marie Antoinette, of whom she painted over twenty portraits between 1779 and 1789.
Whilst by many the movements were ascribed to the agency of spirits, two investigators - count de Gasparin and Professor Thury of Geneva - conducted a careful series of experiments by which they claimed to have demonstrated that the movements of the table were due to a physical force emanating from the bodies of the sitters, for which they proposed the name "ectenic force."
Carpenter and others pointed out, however, that the phenomena obviously depended upon the expectation of the sitters, and could be stopped altogether by appropriate suggestion.
To every Salon Houdon was a chief contributor; most of the leading men of the day were his sitters; his busts of d'Alembert, Prince Henry of Prussia, Gerbier, Buffon (for Catharine of Russia) and Mirabeau are remarkable portraits; and in 1778, when the news of Rousseau's death reached him, Houdon started at once for Ermenonville, and there took a cast of the dead man's face, from which he produced the grand and life-like head now in the Louvre.
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