French sculptor (b. 1730, Paris, d. 1809, Paris)
The Princess of Hesse-Homburg as Minerva
Marble, height 100 cm
The Hermitage, St. Petersburg
Pajou showed this marble relief at the Salon of 1761 with the somewhat unpromising theme of the Princess of Hesse-Homburg as Minerva consecrating on the Altar of Immortality the Cordon of the Order of St Catherine. Though the subject might be obscure, Pajou’s treatment of it effectively avoids both the ridiculous and the fussy. The execution is of great delicacy, with graceful chiseling of the patterned helmet and the folds of Grecian-style drapery that gently fall about the shoulders. While the bas-relief below is a piece of historical narration, the main portion is composed with deliberate calm, aiming at harmony of line, a sense of interval, and a purity of form.