2639DD Object 1

A terracotta model by Pierre Puget, offered by Gallerie Sismann for €180,000.

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A terracotta model of a bearded man’s head on offer at Gallerie Sismann for €180,000 is thought to relate to a similar marble by French sculptor Pierre Puget (1620-94) at the Cleveland Museum of Art.

The gallery suggests that its work could be a preparatory modello for the Cleveland piece based on the similarity of the features such as the length of the hair and the wrinkles around the eyes. A firing vent at the top of the terracotta piece also suggests it was preparatory rather than a work in its own right. 

Unusual for being inscribed with artist’s name, date and place of creation, the Cleveland bust was made in Rome, where Puget studied ancient busts in noble collections. According to the museum, it is thought to be a generalised image rather than a portrait of a particular historical figure.

2639DD Object 3

A terracotta model by Pierre Puget, offered by Gallerie Sismann for €180,000.

Recent research cited in the gallery’s catalogue entry adds that the source could be an antique copy of a 3rd century portrait of Anaximander of Miletus, a 6th century BC philosopher.

Puget was a Baroque artist, whose emotional and dramatic works contrasted with the academic works of the Neoclassical era.

The gallery describes the finished piece as reflecting a dramatic moment of thought with a “restrained, austere, tense expression”.