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Joseph Chinard  (1756−1813)
Portrait of Louis-Étienne Vincent-Marniola, 1809
Terracotta
25 3/16 x 25 3/16 x 14 15/16 in. (64 x 64 x 38 cm)
Purchased by The Frick Collection, 2004
Accession number: 2004.2.01
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Commentary:

With his head slightly tilted, Vincent-Marniola gazes off into the far distance, seemingly lost in thought. The curls that fall across his forehead, his pursed lips, and the lines above his mouth all add a realistic note to Chinard’s otherwise idealized depiction. These details are in perfect equipoise with the classically presented physiognomy of this imperial official, whose eyes are modeled without irises, as would be appropriate for a subject from antiquity. Even Vincent-Marniola’s coiffure derives from a classical prototype (styled à la Titus), yet in the sculpting of the terracotta, the locks and curls assume a movement and energy that are almost Romantic.

Although the bust is not dated and previously has never been published, it was exhibited at the Salon of 1810 and was likely to have been commissioned to commemorate Vincent-Marniola’s appointment to the office of Conseiller d’État, the empire’s supreme legislative body, in February 1809. In January 1808, following several prestigious government appointments, Vincent-Marniola was made prefect of Po, the region of Piedmont in northern Italy that had been annexed to France in 1802. At only twenty-seven years of age, he was unusually young for that office. In February 1809, he returned to Paris to accept the appointment as Conseiller d’État. As a member of the Conseil d’État, he was destined for a ministerial or senatorial career, one that was cut short by his untimely death (the precise cause of which is unknown) on October 13, 1809. 

In April of 2014, a marble bust of Louis-Étienne Vincent-Marniola by Chinard (ca. 1809) appeared in an auction in Paris (Drouot Richelieu, Salle 10, Mobilier & Objets d’Art dont une collection de Philatélie, Lot 257). This marble bust may possibly be the final version of The Frick Collection terracotta prototype.