This work that is now exhibited at the Louvre Museum in Paris was carved in marble in 1754 and was the one presented by the Rococo sculptor Etienne Falconet to join the Academy.
For this composition, Falconet is inspired by theFrench baroque sculptorhe most admired:Pierre Puget. And he may not admire him so much for his artistic mastery as for his personal life. In fact, they both have in common that they were somewhat misunderstood in their time, especially Puget.
Milo of Crotona, by Falconet
Specifically E. Falconetwas a good sculptor, but that is not an impediment to recognize that he was a quarrelsome and very unsociable type, both qualities that have been found in many other previous artists
But on the other hand, he was also a particularly intelligent and highly cultured character, with vast knowledge of classical times. If we combine his knowledge and his character, the result in the long run could not be anything other than problems, since he had no qualms about making critical and very extensive interpretations of some of the contemporary artists. He even published several volumes with all his writings in the year 1781. Some writings in which he shows absolute self-confidence.
But that self-esteem is common in many artists, however what is not so common is the many criticisms ofother creators, both earlier and contemporary.
As for those already dead, he said that he thought that the Athena or Zeus of the great Greek sculptorPhidiascould not be beautiful, or that Cicero could not be an expert in sculpture and painting. From those comments to names as revered as these, it can be deduced that Falconet viewed tradition and established norms with tremendously critical eyes, and on many occasions this was accompanied by their own forms of his authoritarian nature.
Something much more evident in the harsh confrontations he had with artists of his time, and not only sculptors but also with characters from different disciplines or professions such as the painter, the painter Anton Raphael Mengs, the theoretician Lessing, the scholar Count Algarotti, the writer Voltaire or the archaeologist and antiquarian Count of Caylus. All of them key characters in this artistic moment of passage between the forms of Rococó to Neoclassicism.
Falconet clearly identified with Enlightenment thought, and when he criticized all those characters, he did so after having studied their work. But he did it in a totally artistic spirit, rejecting many of the very abstract metaphysical or aesthetic issues that certain theories implied. In fact, he was in favor at the time of carrying out his works to resort to empirical methods to investigate new forms and demonstrate the validity of it or not.