Little is known about Barthélemy Prieur’s training but an early source mentions him training in Rome as a young artist together with another French sculptor, Ponce Jaquiot, in 1550. After working in Rome, probably as a stucco and later on as a bronze sculptor, Prieur was then in Turin between 1564 and 1568 as court sculptor of the Duke of Savoy. He returned to Paris in 1571 having acquired the reputation of an experienced bronze sculptor and immediately received important commissions. An extremely well-educated man, owner of a large library and hundreds of drawings, he became court sculptor of Henri IV from 1594 and executed numerous small-scale bronzes for the king, among them figures of Henri IV and his queen Marie de’Medici.
His style is closely influenced by the work of the artists working at Fontainebleau in the second half of the 16th century. The influence of Italian artists like Primaticcio and of Antique models was very strong on French sculptors of the time. Also evident is the debt to Giambologna’s work, which Prieur might have seen in Italy directly, or have absorbed through the Netherlandish filter of Pietro Francavilla’s work after Giambologna’s pupil began to work in Paris in the early 1600s. All these influences are shared by a group of small-scale bronze statuettes now attributed to him, and especially evident in the female ones (see, for example, S128-9).