The J. Paul Getty Museum

Bust of Mary Robinson

Object Details


Bust of Mary Robinson


Pierre-Jean David d'Angers (French, 1788 - 1856)







Object Number:



46.4 cm (18 1/4 in.)

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Object Description

This austere bust of a young American woman by a French sculptor has an enigmatic air. The lack of accessories, the geometric simplicity of the shapes, and the classicizing square form of the bust give the work an otherworldly effect. To augment this effect, the artist carved the face with smooth planes, left the pupils blank and unincised, and fashioned the large loops of hair on the top of her head in simple, clear shapes to bring out the figure's abstract qualities.

The figure's remote classicism is leavened by the naturalism of details such as her bumpy nose. Pierre-Jean David d'Angers captured the awkwardness of adolescence in his sitter, representing Mary Robinson as a shy teenager with her head demurely tilted forward and down, casting a deep shadow below her brows.

Mary Robinson was the daughter of a merchant and sea captain with a route between New York and Le Havre, France. She probably sat for the sculptor on a family visit to France.