The Wallace Collection

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Robert Le Lorrain (1666 - 1743)
Biography
Works of Art

Robert Le Lorrain (1666-1743) was born into a family of artists and found his way into the workshop of royal sculptor François Girardon aged 18 in 1684. Having won the Prix de Rome in 1689, Le Lorrain went to complete his training in Italy in 1692. Despite an initial positive start, however, his relationship with the director of the French Academy in Rome rapidly deteriorated. As the young sculptor had sent most of his models back to Paris to be cast in bronze for the art market, instead of reserving them for the king as it was customary for training artists, he was unceremoniously sent back in 1694. Nonetheless, Le Lorrain became a member, and later on a Professor, at the Académie de Peinture et Sculpture and worked for the king at Versailles at the beginning of the eighteenth century.

Most of his large-scale works, for Versailles, Marly and various churches and monuments in Paris, are unfortunately lost. Of those surviving, the group representing The Horses of the Sun installed above the stable doors of the hôtel de Rohan in Paris, is generally considered his masterpiece.

Royal commissions, instead, were intermittent and Le Lorrain had to rely increasingly on private collectors who were very fond of his models for small-scale bronze and marble sculptures, particularly mythological groups and idealised female and male heads.

According to contemporary sources, a proud and solitary disposition meant that he would rather wait for private collectors to approach him than soliciting commissions.