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Bust - Michel-Jean Sedaine
  • Michel-Jean Sedaine
    Pajou, Augustin, born 1730 - died 1809
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Michel-Jean Sedaine

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    France (made)

  • Date:

    1775 (dated)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Pajou, Augustin, born 1730 - died 1809 (sculptor)

  • Materials and Techniques:


  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Europe 1600-1815, Room 4, case WN

Michel-Jean Sedaine (1719-1797), poet and dramatist, was a personal friend of Pajou, who also executed a bust of Madame Sedaine (now in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston).

At the time this bust was made, Pajou was a very successful sculptor in Paris and Sedaine, here aged 56, was a well-established and highly-regarded librettist for opera. The friendship of the two is well documented. This bust is recorded as having been in the possession of Sedaine's family for a long time.

This is a very good example of Pajou's powerful analysis of character, and sensitive, but assured, portrait style.

Physical description

Bust in terracotta of Michel-Jean Sedaine. The subject is facing towards his half right, wearing a loose coat and a frilled shirt open at the neck, his wig 'en queue'.

Place of Origin

France (made)


1775 (dated)


Pajou, Augustin, born 1730 - died 1809 (sculptor)

Materials and Techniques


Marks and inscriptions

'Pajou fe 1775'
at the back


Height: 61.3 cm with socle, Height: 12.7 cm socle, Width: 46 cm, Depth: 27 cm

Object history note

Bought, Sotheby's for £250, in 1959, property of a gentleman. Formerly David-Weill collection. The bust was long in the possession of the sitter's family.

Historical context note

On the circular wooden base is written: Sedaine Fait par Pajou.

Descriptive line

Bust, terracotta, of the poet and dramatist Michel-Jean Sedaine, by Augustin Pajou, France, dated 1775

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

Stein, H., Augustin Pajou, 1912 p.59
Lami, Stanislas., Dictionnaire des sculpteurs de l'école française au dixhuitième siècle, Paris, 1911, p.213
Draper, J.D., in exhibition catalogue Augustin Pajou, Royal Sculptor, New York (Metropolitan Museum of Art) and Paris (Louvre), 1997, Cat. 99, p.246-8
Hodgkinson, T., French Eighteenth Century Sculpture in the Victoria and Albert Museum, in V&A Museum Yearbook, 1972
Scherf, Guilhem, Augustin Pajou et ses Contemporains, (colloquium, Louvre) November 1997
Charlton, D. and Ledbury, M. (eds), Michel-Jean Sedaine (1719-1797): Theatre, Opera and Art, , Aldershot 2000 (re Sedaine)
Crow, T., Emulation: Making Artists for Revulotionary France, , New Haven and London, 1995, pp.5-7 (re Sedaine)

Labels and date

Michel-Jean Sedaine

The dramatist Sedaine was best known for his librettos for comic operas. He is shown here wearing a banyan, a man’s gown, over a shirt open at the neck. This was an informal style of dress worn by men at home, when they were among family and friends. Writers, musicians and artists were often portrayed like this.

France (Paris)
By Augustin Pajou

The Encyclopédie, Vol. 11, 1765:

‘Opera, comic, this entertainment is a bizarre combination of crude humour, bad dialogue, somersaults, stage machines and dances. It was not until 1715 that the comedians at the fairs gave their entertainment the name opéra comique. The usual plays were amusing subjects set as popular songs, mixed with prose, and accompanied by dances and ballets.’ [09/12/2015]
French, signed and dated 1775
By Augustin Pajou (1730-1809)

Michel-Jean Sedaine, poet and dramatist, was a personal friend of the sculptor, who also executed a bust of Madame Sedaine.
[1993 - 2011]



Subjects depicted

Portraits; Wigs


Sculpture; Portraits


Sculpture Collection

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