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French Terra-cotta Sculpture

Pieter Xavery (Flemish, 1647–after 1674), Satyr (detail), 1671, Terra-cotta, 16 9/16 x 6 11/16 x 4 5/16 inches, Gift of Irene and Howard Stein, 2020.108

In the 1700s and 1800s, sculptors frequently used terra-cotta (fired clay) to make preliminary versions of sculptures, called maquettes, as well as small-scale finished figures. These intimate works, often made from live models, reveal traces of an artist’s process. The High’s collection of French terra-cottas includes works by Pierre-Eugène-Émile Hébert, François Rude, and Louis-Claude Vassé.