François Girardon

Dates1628 - 1715
BornTroyes, France
DiedParis, France

François Girardon dominated sculptural production for Louis XIV's myriad building projects between 1670 and 1700. Initially working under master planner Charles Le Brun's direction, Girardon eventually managed his own large sculptural projects. He rose to great fame until, in his old age, he was overshadowed by Jules Hardouin Mansart.

The son of a founder, Girardon early on attracted the notice of the chancellor of the Académie Royale, who supported his sojourn in Rome to study antiquities. After seeing Girardon's work on one of his first official commissions--carved decoration for Louis XIV's bedchamber at the palace of the Louvre--Charles Le Brun took him under his wing and continuously furnished Girardon with royal commissions. Girardon was given progressively more responsibility for the restoration of the king's antiques, the ornamentation of the ships in the royal fleet in Toulon, and the general planning and development of all royal sculptural commissions, including the decoration of the Louvre and the Dôme des Invalides. Meanwhile, Girardon rose through the ranks at the Académie Royale, ascending to the highest position as chancellor in 1695, a rare honor for a sculptor.

Girardon was also known for his important art collection. At his death, he owned about eight hundred sculptures, a collection second only to that of Louis XIV.