Antoine Coysevox
Biography of French Baroque Sculptor.

Pin it

Terracotta portrait of Charles Le Brun
(1676) Wallace Collection, London

Antoine Coysevox (1640-1720)

Due to a combination of family connections and raw talent, French sculptor Antoine Coysevox came to rapid prominence at the court of Louis XIV. Arriving in Paris in 1657, he became sculptor to the King in 1666, and achieved growing success in the 1680s as royal taste veered away from French classicism towards a looser, more Baroque style. Coysevox's particular style of Baroque sculpture owes much to Bernini (1598-1680), but the naturalism and animation of his works also looks forward to Rococo. A contemporary of Francois Girardon (1628-1715), Coysevox created numerous statues and striking reliefs but is best known for his portrait busts, including those of the King Louis XIV (1686, bronze, Louvre) and the painter Charles Le Brun (1676, Terracotta, Wallace Collection, London).

SCULPTURE (1600-1850)
Baroque/Rococo Sculptors (to-1750)
Italian Baroque Artists
French Baroque Artists
Spanish Baroque Artists
German Baroque Artists
Juan Martines Montanes (1568-1649)
Francois Duquesnoy (1597-1643)
Alessandro Algardi (1598-1654)
Alonzo Cano (Granada, 1601-1667)
Pierre Puget (1622-1694)
Grinling Gibbons (1648-1721)
Balthasar Permoser (1651-1732)
Andreas Schluter (1664-1714)
Guillaume Coustou (1677-1746)
Louis-Francois Roubiliac (1695-1762)
Jean-Baptiste Pigalle (1714-1785)

For the greatest works, see:
Greatest Sculptures Ever.

For details of the origins and
development of the plastic arts
see: History of Sculpture.

For a list of the world's most
talented 3-D artists, see:
Greatest Sculptors.

For different types of carving,
and modelling, see:
Marble Sculpture
Pentelic, Carrara, Parian marbles.
Bronze Sculpture
Lost-wax casting method,
sandcasting, centrifugal casting.


Coysevox was born in Lyons. His artist training was traditional, studying sculpture at the Royal Academy between 1657 and 1663. He also studied under Louis Lerambert (1620—1670) who was a sculptor of some acclaim, notably in the plastic art of decorative sculpture, portrait busts and tomb figures. In 1666, Coysevox married Lerambert's niece and it was through Lerambert's position as Carer for the Antiquities and Marbles of the King, that Coysevox was introduced to Versailles. In the same year, Coysevox became sculptor to King Louis XIV, who was in the process of enlarging the Palace of Versailles to the south-west of Paris.

From an early age, Coysevox was producing sculptural works of merit. Although his commissions for dignitaries tended to follow a more classical line, which was in vogue at the time - his portrait busts of friends show a great sense of naturalism. This can be seen in the Bernini-style terracotta bust of his friend Charles Le Brun (1676, Wallace Collection, London). Here you can see the sitter's everyday pleated linen shirt below the classical drapery. Coysevox makes no attempt to stylise or reduce the character to classical canons. The bust was warmly received and obtained him membership of the French Academy of Fine Arts.


Versailles & Portraits

By the late 1670s Coysevox was employed at Versailles, tasked with other sculptors to create fountains and statues for the gardens. He also became renowned for his decoration of the Galerie des Glaces, Salon de la Guerre and Escalier des Ambassadeurs. Although Coysevox never travelled to Italy, his personal style was more Italian Baroque - animated and lively - after the great Bernini. He created an exquisite bronze bust Louis XIV (c.1686, Wallace Collection) which shows a serious, almost weary king, who is somewhat enlivened by his decadent dress. Coysevox's later works show a marked tendency towards Rococo art, a style which dominated arts in the first half of the 18th century. An example of this can be seen in his statue of Duchesse de Bourgogne as Diana (1710, Musee du Chateau, Versailles). The Duchess is shown as a light-hearted Goddess of the hunt - her features and dress are finely etched, her pose animated.

Note About Art Evaluation
In order to appreciate important 3-D artists like the Baroque sculptor Antoine Coysevox, see: How to Appreciate Sculpture. For later works, please see: How to Appreciate Modern Sculpture.

Coysevox's other portrait busts included: Antoine Coypel (Louvre), Marie Serre (1706); bronze of the Grand Conde (1688, Louvre); and Robert de Cotte (1707, Bibliotheque Ste Genevieve, Paris).


There are over 200 sculptures, statues, busts, reliefs and tombs remaining from Coysevox. His most important tomb was for that of Cardinal Mazarin (1692, Louvre). Contrary to the Italian Baroque style, Coysevox created the main figures in marble and the lower sitting figures in bronze. The cardinal's gesture is dramatic, and vibrant. The long flow of his cloak flows behind him in dramatic twists. Coysevox also sculpted the Tomb of Colbert (1685-87), an exquisite marble funeral monument still housed at Saint-Eustache, Paris.

Coysevox died in 1720 in Paris. He left behind a busy and industrious workshop. Among his pupils were the sculptors Nicolas Coustou (1658-1733) and Guillaume Coustou (1677-1746), with whom he collaborated on a Lamentation Group with Kings Louis XIII and Louis XIV (1715) for the high altar of Notre-Dame Cathedral Paris (1163-1345).

• For the history and types of sculpture, see: Homepage.

© All rights reserved.