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Portrait Bust of Dominique-Vivant Denon

Baron Dominique Vivant Denon (1747‒1825), the subject of this portrait bust, served in a number of diplomatic posts in Italy before the French Revolution. He later accompanied Napoleon on his Egyptian expedition in 1798 in a scholarly capacity before serving as director of the Louvre Museum from 1802 to 1815. An inscription on the bust’s shoulder, indicating that Denon was forty-five years old, suggests a date of 1792 for this work. That year, French nationals were expelled from Venice, where Denon had been living, and he settled temporarily in Florence. Although this bust has long been attributed to the Neoclassical sculptor Joseph Chinard, recent scholarship suggests that it may instead be the work of Barthélemy Corneille, a French sculptor based in Florence. In September 1793, Denon wrote to his Venetian mistress Isabella Teotochi Marin that he was sending her a portrait bust of himself that he commissioned from Corneille.

Attributed to Joseph Chinard
French, 1756‒1813
or Barthélemy Corneille
French, ca. 1760‒1805
Portrait Bust of Dominique-Vivant Denon
1792–93
Terracotta
28 x 17 ½ x 9 1/2 in. (71.1 x 44.5 x 24.1 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, 61.35