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Allegorical Group with the Bust of an Architect
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Attributed to Philippe-Laurent Roland
French, about. 1780 - 1790
Terracotta
base
97.SC.9

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A gracefully posed young woman gestures towards a portrait bust that stands in the center of a large pedestal. Two children attempt to clamber up the pedestal while a dog rests in the back on the base. Around the pedestal, the attributes of an architect--T-square, compass, globe, books, and drawings--are casually placed, composing a still life.

While the bust may be a portrait of an unidentified architect, the other figures are allegorical. The dog is a traditional symbol of fidelity, while the two children are symbols of their potential for instruction, referring to the moral, ethical, and utopian roles given to architects in this period.

Although the use of allegory recalls tomb monuments, the piece speaks in a celebratory mode, honoring the architect with the classicizing vocabulary of the bust form and an elevated base adorned with garlands and fretwork molding. Similarly, rather than suggesting a mournful tone, the figures' poses suggest familial intimacy, particularly the young woman's informal leaning posture and her arm around the back of the bust.

The work was made in several pieces that were joined together before firing. Except for the woman's head, which is hollow, each of the figures is made of solid clay.


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