Alabaster statuette of Voltaire by Jean-Claude-Francois Joseph Rosset. The philosopher, bewigged and in formal attire, holds a book with one hand and places the other on his hip . This model was copied by Wedgwood. (Repairs, notably to the right arm.)
Signed: “Rosset à St. Claude 1776”
French & Co.
Jacques Seligmann & Co.
Nelson Gallery of Art
Literature: Handbook of the Nelson Gallery of Art and Atkins Museum: Kansas City; 1959 (4th ed.), p 115 and 1973 (5th ed.), p 137 (Illustrated in both.)
The American Adventure: the Early Years. Boston 1974. Page A-168 (Illustrated)
Exhibited: “George Washington’s World” - Houston, 1954, #177
“The Century of Mozart” - Kansas City, 1956, #95
“The World of Voltaire”- Ann Harbor, 1968, #4
Also, possibly the alabaster statuette of Voltaire exhibited in the 1900 Exposition of sculpture at the Petit Palais; #4733, collection Joliet (see Lami, Dictionnaire des Sculpteurs Français du XVIIIe Siècle, p 304)
Rosset (1706 – 1786) was born in Saint-Claude, in the Franche-Comté near Switzerland, and visited Voltaire at Ferney. He specialized in busts of Voltaire and other Enlightenment personnages. The Marquis de Villette described a visit made by Rosset to Voltaire in 1765: “Charmed by the friendliness of this artist, Voltaire welcomed him to Ferney, (Voltaire’s home in Switzerland) and I witnessed the innocence with which he doffed his wig, while playing chess, and revealed his bald head to him. The King of Prussia… said ‘There is no-one who knows how to give life to a bust like the Franche-Comté sculptor!’ He manipulated boxwood, marble and alabaster with equal skill.” Dictionnaire des Sculpteurs de l’école Française: Stanislas Lami; Champion, Paris 1911. Vol. II, page 304-305. Several of his works are in the Louvre.