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Deseine was born in Paris on July 20, 1749. He was a student of many master sculptors: Augustin Pajou, Edme Dumont, Guillaume II Coustou and Louis-Philippe Mouchy. Deseine left for the Académie de France à Rome in 1781. There he did the customary copies of Antique sculpture and the Deseine expert Lapparent informs us that he filled up a sketchbook, which is now in the Louvre, full of scenes from everyday life. Then on 25 June 1785 Deseine was agréé (the first step in the Academy’s hierarchy, which corresponds to our “Associate”). His marble reception piece, Mucius Scaevola (Louvre) won him the title of full academician. Deseine executed a Hebe and a Bacchus for the dining room of the Château de Chantilly (1787-89), and became the Sculptor to the Prince de Condé. Deseine was an obvious royalist who more or less hid away during the Revolution, except that on one occasion in 1791 he argued for the survival of the Academy in Consideration sur les académies, read before the Assemblée Nationale. He finally reappeared at the Salon of 1798 where he showed a Vestal Lighting the Sacred Flame, a plaster figure of Flora, as well as a plaster bust of Montaigne.
Deseine is known mainly as a portrait sculptor. He maintained an interest in religious subject matter, for instance, for the church of Saint-Roch in Paris he did an Entombment (Chapelle de Saint-Charles) and in Notre-Dame he restored Coustou’s Pietà (High Altar). He executed a plaster bust titled Flagellation of Christ in 1806 (Louvre). In addition, he spent much effort tracking down religious sculpture that had been dispersed or removed from churches throughout Paris. For the Senate he did statues of Prudence and Minerva (ca. 1802), which shows his continued interest in classical iconography. Deseine’s stone statue for the Senate of Michel de l’Hôpital, is in situ (1807-11). He received many commissions during the First Empire and executed reliefs for the Vendôme Column (1806-10). Deseine argued again in support of the former Royal Academy in a publication dated 1814, based on his earlier speech (Notice historiques sur les anciennes académies. . . . ). A marble Young Girl as Flora dated 1818 was exhibited not too long ago (Skulptur aus dem Louvre; Paris and Duisburg, 1989). In 1819 his Funerary Monument to Cardinal Belloy in Notre-Dame was unveiled (Skulptur aus dem Louvre, 1989, cat. no. 30). Deseine died on 11 October 1822. His deaf-mute brother, Claude-André Deseine (1740-1823) was also a successful portrait sculptor.
Le Châtelier, Georges. L.-P. Deseine, statuaire 1749-1822. Paris: 1906; Thirion, Jacques. “Le monument funéraire du cardinal de Belloy à Notre-Dame de Paris, oeuvre de P.-L. Deseine.” Bulletin Archéologique du Comité des Travaux Historiques et Scientifiques 3 (1967): 227-252; Le Néo-classicisme. Dessins français de 1750 à 1825 dans les collections du Musée du Louvre. Paris: 1972, cat. no. 60; Lapparent, Anne Marie de. “L.-P. Deseine, statuaire,” Diss., Ecole du Louvre, 1985; Idem, Deseine, Louis-Pierre, in From David to Ingres: Early 19th century French Artists. The Dictionary of Art series. London and New York, Grove/Art, 2000, pp. 140-141.
Submitted by Michael Preston Worley, Ph.D.