Bust of a gentleman

Francesco Orso
(?-1799)
18th century, terracotta

The terracotta presented here is one of only a handful of works executed in this material by the Piedmontese artist, who mainly worked in wax.  In this portrait, we can see that Orso had adapted in full to Parisian artistic dictates: the elegant gentleman is wearing an open and decorated tail coat, out of which peeks a cravat tied in a bow. The French hairstyle is masterfully rendered.

Orso worked in the second half of the eighteenth century, and was the only Piedmont sculptor to specialise in making polychrome wax portraits of members of the Savoy court with stunning realism. Francesco Orso was also the only Italian sculptor to move permanently to Paris. He lived there from 1785, and as a result experienced the crucial moments of the French Revolution first hand.