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Jean-Alexandre-Joseph Falguière
French, 1831–1900)
Diana, 1882
Cast bronze
H. 36 in. x W. 16 1/2 in. x L. 13 1/4 in.
IUAM 94.73

A native of Toulouse, Falguière was one of the most respected French sculptors working at the end of the nineteenth century. Considered the epitome of the successful academic artist, Falguière entered the École des Beaux-Arts in 1854. His many early successes and his rapid rise in the art world were noted by contemporary critics, and by the end of the 1870s he had become an important French sculptor. In 1870 he received the Legion of Honor, and in the 1880s he became a professor at the École des Beaux-Arts.

Throughout much of his later career he operated a large, successful studio, attracting numerous students. Falguière led a busy life and career. From 1863 to 1899 he exhibited at thirty-seven Paris Salons, frequently submitting several works in the same year. He also exhibited at the Expositions Universelles of 1867 and 1878 and at the Exposition of 1900. Along with a number of statues made for architectural decoration and thirty commemorative monuments, Falguière sculpted more than fifty portrait busts. In addition to these works, Falguière produced a series of female nudes that were created solely to attract attention of potential buyers at the annual Salons, and to increase orders for marble or bronze reductions. His Diana is considered to belong to that category of works.

In addition to the Diana, he created a series of femme fatales, including Eve, A Hunting Nymph, Fighting Bacchantes, and Woman with a Peacock, exhibited in various media throughout the 1880s and 1890s. Although often receiving mixed reviews, these statues had considerable popular success and became an eagerly awaited and integral part of the annual Salons.

Parisian critics agreed that these Salon nudes all lacked idealization and displayed a realism of form, a lack of iconography, and a marked insignificance of subject matter that betrayed them as works contrived to display the greatest possible number of feminine charms. Falguière's full-length nude portraits of recognizable studio models striking revelatory poses were not convincing images of the mythological and biblical creatures whose names and attributes they bear.

As one critic remarked, “these figures still seemed to show the traces of a recently removed corset. Little wonder that they were found unconvincing as goddesses.”

The IUAM Diana is a reduction cast of Falguière’s life-size plaster version of Diana. Evidently the work was enormously popular and the model was reproduced in numerous reduced versions in various media—such as the bronze in the Indiana University Art Museum collection.

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