The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Head of Ceres
  • Attributed to Robert Le Lorrain (1666 - 1743)
  • Head of Ceres
  • France
  • 18th century
  • Head
  • Marble
  • Height: 40.8 cm
  • S33
  • Porphyry Court
Further Reading
  • The presence of the crown of wheat suggest that this female head represents the goddess Ceres. Long, straight necks, dreamy eyes, triangular faces with high cheek bones and pointed chins, and smiling lips are common stylistic features of many similar busts attributed to the French sculptor Robert Le Lorrain.

    Born in Paris in 1666, Le Lorrain’s talent was evident very early on when his master, the French Royal sculptor François Girardon, chose him among his pupils to teach drawing to his children. The young sculptor won the Prix de Rome and trained in Italy in the early 1690s. He worked for the king at Versailles, but his career relied mostly on private commissions.

    Le Lorrain produced large numbers of idealised heads, in marble, bronze and terracotta, and these were avidly collected by contemporaries. Their presence in sale catalogues of the eighteenth century, often in pairs, is ubiquitous and clearly testifies to their popularity as decorative elements. Their fine detailing and elegant, cold eroticism, would have surely appealed to a wide range of collectors.

    In our collection is also another example of this type of production by Le Lorrain, a Head of a Young Woman (S34). The two are first mentioned at Hertford House in 1890 and are displayed on top of identical red porphyry columns with gilt-bronze mounts (F289-290). The busts, however, were not originally conceived as a pair: the Head of Ceres is usually paired with a bust of Flora in eighteenth-century sale catalogues, the dimensions of the two heads do not match and they are facing in the same direction.