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  • Bust
    Rosset, Jean Claude François Joseph, born 1706 - died 1786
  • Enlarge image


  • Place of origin:

    France (made)

  • Date:

    1768 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Rosset, Jean Claude François Joseph, born 1706 - died 1786 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Carved marble

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    On short term loan out for exhibition

Voltaire was a highly influential philosopher, champion of tolerance and social justice, dramatist, poet and historian, and a key figure in the French Enlightenment.

The Rosset family of sculptors, from St Claude in Eastern France, often worked together and produced a number of busts and also statuettes of Voltaire. The father, Jean-Claude-Francois Joseph Rosset (generally known as Joseph; 1706-1786), was followed by sons Jacques-Joseph Rosset (1741-1826), François-Marie Rosset (1743-1824), and Claude-Antoine Rosset (1749-1818). Joseph is generally thought to have produced all the basic models of Voltaire for the family. François and Antoine worked closely with him and may have continued to reproduce these models.

This bust, signed ROSSET F. A ST. CLAUDE 1768, is ascribed to Joseph, and is one of the earliest known by him. It dates from twenty years after the earliest known sculpted portraits of Voltaire (for instance by Lemoyne, exhibited at the Salon in Paris, 1748), but predates the better-known busts of Voltaire by the great French sculptor Houdon.

There is a marble statuette of Voltaire in the National Museum, Stockholm, signed ROSSET F. A ST. CLAUDE 1769. A number of versions of this exist, some signed 'Rosset père et fils' (father and son) and others father. Voltaire was an extremely popular subject who complained at the number of times he was asked to sit for his portrait. The Rosset family played a significant role in the production and dissemination of his image in sculpture.

Physical description

Marble bust of Voltaire (mounted on Hopton wood stone base by 'A. W. Room' - made by V&A Art Work Room?).

Place of Origin

France (made)


1768 (made)


Rosset, Jean Claude François Joseph, born 1706 - died 1786 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Carved marble

Marks and inscriptions

below, on the truncation


Height: 7.875 in

Descriptive line

Marble bust of Voltaire by Jean-Claude-Francois Joseph Rosset, French, 1768.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

[Exhibition catalogue] Ivories du Musé du Louvre 1480-1850 une Collection Inédite. Château-Musée de Dieppe, 2005. pp. 150-151.
Tardy. Les Ivoires. 1972-1977. pp. 195, 304-305.
Fischer, U. Une Famille de Sculpteurs et de Peintres Comtois, Les Rosset. Paris, 1919.
Fischer, U. Une Semaine au Paya des Rosset Artistes Comtois. Paris, 1925.
The Marquis de Villette. Journal de Paris. IV. 4. January. 1787.
Brune, Abbé Paul. Dictionnaire des Artistes et Ouvriers d'Art de la France, Franche-Comté. Paris, 1912. pp. 245-248.
Aubert, Jean and Dumas, Pierre. Catalogue des collections du Musée de Chambéry. Sculpture, XIe-XXe siècles. Chambéry, 1983. no. 83.
Scherf, Guilhem, 'L'iconographie sculptée de Voltaire' in Voltaire et l'Europe (exhibition catalogue), Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris, 1994.






Sculpture Collection

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