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Chaudet, born in Paris on March 3, 1763, studied under both Jean-Baptiste Stouf (1742-1826) and Etienne-Pierre-Adrien Gois (1731-1823). In 1784 Chaudet won the first prize in sculpture with a relief: Joseph Sold by His Brothers, which was his ticket to Rome. Back in Paris he was agréé (the stage of associate) in the tumultuous year of 1789 but he did not become a full academician. He did become a member of the Institut later in 1805. Chaudet exhibited a plaster statue of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and a terracotta group of Belisarius, a popular Neoclassical theme (a bronze version is in Malmaison), along with other works in the Salon of 1791. Like many other sculptors Chaudet worked on the Panthéon in 1792-93 (he contributed a relief, Devotedness to the Nation) and he was selected to execute the statue of Napoleon that topped the Vendôme Column (1810). A year later he died (19 April 1811).
Other works by Chaudet include a marble group of Phorbas and Oedipus (finished by Pierre Cartellier in 1818; Louvre), a plaster bust of Lamoignon de Malesherbes (Louvre), both from 1801, a highly popular marble Cupid with a Butterfly, also in the Louvre (finished by Cartellier in 1817) and a silver statue of Peace (1806; Louvre). Numerous busts are also known, including several of Napoleon, Chaptal (Musée des Beaux-Arts de Tours), and Baron Dominique-Vivant Denon of 1804 (plaster, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Dijon). An elegant marble statue of Cyparissus is in the Hermitage in Leningrad (1810). The youth is shown holding his lover Apollo’s favorite little stag, which he had inadvertently slain. Apollo thereby metamorphosed him into a cypress. A marble statue of General Jacques-François Dugommier was commissioned for Versailles and another standing statue of Cincinnatus for the hall of the Senate (1804). In the Cour carré, one of the courtyards of the Louvre, Chaudet carved Heroic Poetry, a relief. Chaudet’s drawings are outstanding examples of the Neoclassical style.
Vitry, Paul. “Un album de dessins du sculpteur Chaudet.” Bulletin de la Société de l’Histoire de l’Art Français (1924): 27; Hubert, Gérard. “Note sur deux sculptures retrouvées du sculpteur Chaudet.” Archives de l’Art Français 22 (1959): 287-292; Mathieu Méras. “Deux bustes de Napoléon par Chaudet à Montauban.” Bulletin de la Société des Amis du Musée Ingres, no. 13 (1963): 11-15; Biver, Marie-Louise. “Petite histoire d’une statue vagabonde.” Revue de l’Institut Napoléon, no. 113 (1969): 221-222; West, Alison. From Pigalle to Préault: Neoclassicism and the Sublime in French Sculpture 1760-1840. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998; Hubert, Gérard. “Chaudet, Denis-Antoine,” in From David to Ingres: Early 19th century French Artists. The Grove Dictionary of Art series. London and New York: Grove Art, 2000, pp. 49-50.
Submitted by Michael Preston Worley, Ph.D.