Pierre Puget

Bust of a King

c. 1663-1668
Puget spent much of his life in Italy; this work was likely carved in Genoa. The style reflects knowledge of contemporary sculpture in Rome, including work by Bernini. The king turns sharply to the side, his sudden movement setting the space around the bust into play. We can imagine him looking out towards something we ourselves cannot see. In the Roman models that inspired Puget, this violent motion was driven by a specific demand of the story - a sudden vision, for example. Here, without knowing the man's identity, it is difficult to understand what motivates his action. The effect is of a heroic, commanding figure.

Marchese Domenico Serra (1805–1879), Genoa, Italy (?) [1]

Private collection, Switzerland [2]

by 1967 – 1974/03/20
Sir Spencer Le Marchant (1931–1986), London, UK [3]

1974/03/20 –
National Gallery of Canada, purchased from Sir Spencer Le Marchant through the Heim Gallery Ltd. (François Heim and Andrew Ciechanowieki), London, UK [4]

[1] Puget expert Klaus Herding provided this provenance information in a letter to Myron Laskin Jr., dated May 24, 1974 [NGC curatorial file]. He notes that the bust came from the collection of Marchese Domenico Serra who traditionally named the bust King David. In his monograph on Puget Herding points out that no documents confirm the commission of the marble by the Serra family, neither is it mentioned in Alzieri's descriptions of the Serra's palaces in his 19th century guide to Genoa [Herding, Klaus. “Pierre Puget: das bildnerische Werk.” Berlin: Mann, 1970, p. 162, cat. no. 31].

[2] The marble was included in an exhibition at the Heim Gallery, London, in summer 1968 as from a private collection in Switzerland [“French paintings and sculptures of the 17th century Heim Gallery, London, summer exhibition 1968, cat. no. 45].

[3] Herding states that the bust was with the Heim Gallery by 1967. The NGC purchased the bust through the Heim gallery on March 20, 1974. Heim acted as an agent for British politician Sir Spencer Le Marchant in this sale [letter from A. Ciechanowiecki to Myron Laskin, NGC, January 16, 1974, Acession records, NGC curatorial file].

[4] See note [3]. Accession log [NGC curatorial file].

Bust of a King
c. 1663-1668
71.1 x 63.5 x 38.1 cm without base
Credit line
Purchased 1974
Accession number