The J. Paul Getty Museum

Belisarius

Object Details

Title:

Belisarius

Artist/Maker:

Jean-Baptiste Stouf (French, 1742 - 1826)

Culture:

French

Date:

about 1785–1791

Medium:

Marble

Object Number:

2005.19

Dimensions:

60 × 55 × 30 cm, 59.8748 kg (23 5/8 × 21 5/8 × 11 13/16 in., 132 lb.)

See more

See less

Object Description

This aged and emaciated figure is the blind general Belisarius. Heavy eyelids almost completely cover his eyes, which register nothing of the outside world. Deeply set eye sockets, encircled by wrinkles, also draw attention to Belisarius's blindness. His veined and wrinkled forehead, tilted head, and open mouth, emphasize his vulnerable state.
 
In the mid-1700s, a novel by Jean-François Marmontel revived interest in Belisarius--a popular general of the Roman Empire whose promising career was sabotaged by the jealous Emperor Justinian I. In Marmontel's novel, the emperor has the heroic general blinded, reducing Belisarius to begging. He is eventually rediscovered and aided by former officers and his family. This dramatic tale of patriotism, injustice, and redemption was widely embraced in revolutionary and post-revolutionary France and was a popular subject for painters and sculptors--including Jacques-Louis David, Jean-Antoine Houdon, and François Gérard (whose painting Belisarius is also in the Museum's collection).
 
Jean-Baptiste Stouf exhibited this marble sculpture at the Salon of 1791; he had previously shown a terracotta model of the bust of Belisarius in 1785. Like many eighteenth-century artists who depicted Belisarius, Stouf emphasized the subject's pathos, highlighting the injustice of the general's plight. The intimate and sympathetic portrait also demonstrates Stouf's mastery of marble carving. The luxuriantly sculpted beard and cascading curls of hair, the crumpled, crinkled skin, and the broad, high brow are all captured with a subtlety that belies the challenge of carving stone. The formal characteristics of Belisarius echo classical and Baroque sculpture but also anticipate the Romantic sensibility of the 1800s.
 

Provenance
Provenance
1785/1791 - 1792

Jean-Baptiste Stouf, French, 1742 - 1826 (Paris, France), sold to the Société des Amis des Arts, 1792.

1792 - 1793

Société des Amis des Arts (Paris, France), awarded in a lottery, Société des Amis des Arts, Paris, July 30, 1793, to Maximilien Brébion.

1793 -

Maximilien Brébion, 1716 - 1796 (Paris, France)

- 1803

Auguste-Louis-César-Hippolyte-Théodore de Lespinasse de Langeac, comte d'Arlet (Paris, France) [sold, Paillet and Delaroche, La Maison des Divisions supplémentaires du Mont de Piété, Paris, July 11, 1803, lot 22, to "Fuscher".]

- 2004

Private Dealer (county of Bordeaux, France), sold to Guy Ladrière, 2004.

2004

Guy Ladrière, French, born 1946 (Paris, France), sold to Daniel Katz Ltd., 2004.

2004 - 2005

Daniel Katz Ltd. (London, England), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 2005.

Exhibitions
Exhibitions
Salon of 1791 (1791)
  • Salon, Palais du Louvre (Paris), 1791
Société des Amis des Arts of 1792 (1792)
  • Musée du Louvre (Paris), 1792
Société des Amis des Arts of 1793 (1793)
  • Musée du Louvre (Paris), 1793
Messerschmidt and Modernity (July 24 to October 14, 2012)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), July 24 to October 14, 2012
Bibliography
Bibliography

Explication des peintures, sculptures et gravures de Messieurs de l'Académie Royale, dont l'esposition a été ordonnée par Sa Majesté (Paris, 1791) [first version of the exhibition catalogue], p. 49, no. 243, mentioned as "Tête de Bélizaire en marbre. Elle est tirée du Cabinet de l'Auteur.".

Ouvrages de peinture, sculpture, et architecture, [...] exposés au Louvre par ordre de l'Assemblée nationale au mois de septembre 1791 (Paris, 1791) [official exhibition catalogue], p. 41, no. 529, mentioned as "Tête de Vieillard, en marbre.".

Exposition des ouvrages de peinture, sculpture et gravure acquis par la Société des amis des arts, en 1792, exh. cat. (Paris: Société des amis des arts, 1792), no. 53, mentioned as "Buste de Bélisaire, en marbre.".

Liste des numéros gagnants de la loterie de la Société des amis des arts dont le tirage a été fait publiquement le 30 juin 1793 (Paris, 1793), no. 192, mentioned as "Tête de Bélisaire, (par Stouff), no. 53.".

Paillet and Delaroche, La Maison des Divisions supplémentaires du Mont de Piété, Paris. Catalogue d'une riche collection d'articles curieux de tout genre. July 11, 1803, p. 6, lot 22.

Lami, Stanislas. Dictionnaire des sculpteurs de l'école française au dix-huitième siècle. 2 vols. (Paris: H. Champion, 1910-1911; Nendeln, Liechtenstein: Kraus Reprint, 1970), vol. 2 (1911), p. 345.

Gaborit, Jean-René ed. Musée du Louvre. Nouvelles acquisitions du département des Sculptures 1992-1995 (Paris: Musée du Louvre, Réunion des Musées Nationaux, 1996), pp. 106, 109, entry by Guilhem Scherf.

Scherf, Guilhem. "Le Livret refusé du Salon de 1791: quelques remarques sur les sculptures." Bulletin archéologique du Comité des travaux historique et scientifique: Moyen Âge, Renaissance, Temps Modernes 25 (1997), pp. 53, 58.

Draper, James D., and Guilhem Scherf. L'esprit créateur: de Pigalle à Canova. Terres cuites européennes 1740-1840, exh. cat. (Paris: Musée du Louvre, 2003), p. 91.

Sanchez, Pierre. Dictionnaire des artistes exposant dans les salons des 17 et 18eme siècles à Paris et en province 1673-1800. Vol. 3. (Dijon: L'échelle de Jacob, 2004), pp. 1557-58.

Draper, James D. and Guilhem Scherf, eds. Playing with fire: European terracotta models, 1740-1840, exh. cat. (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2004), p. 77, no. 32, entry by Guilhem Scherf.

Van de Sandt, Udolpho. La Société des Amis des Arts (1789-1798). Un mécénat patriotique sous la Révolution (Paris: École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts, 2006), pp. 71, 91.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 7th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2007), pp. 183, 267, ill.

Scherf, Guilhem. "Une statuette en terre cuite de Jean-Baptiste Stouf au Nationalmuseum." Art Bulletin of Nationalmuseum Stockholm 20 (2014), pp. 30-31, fig. 4 p. 31.