Born at Versailles, 1741, Jean-Antoine Houdon is considered to be among the greatest sculptors of the eighteenth century. Houdon studied sculpture under Slodtz and Pigalle and, by age 20, won the Prix-de-Rome. In 1771, he was made an associate of the Academy for his statue Morpheus and became a full member of The Salon in 1775. He was soon appointed teacher at the Academy and received commissions that included sculpting the busts of Catherine II of Russia, the Dukes of Saxe-Gotha, and actress Sophie Arnould. In 1778 Houdon went to Ermenonville to make a death mask of the French philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau, which was then used for the bust of Rousseau at the Louvre. In 1780, Houdon was commissioned to create the bust of Marquis de Lafayette that stands today at the State House in Richmond, Virginia. In 1784, Houdon won the commission to sculpt a marble statue of General George Washington. That next year, Houdon sculpted the work Frileuse as a companion piece for his Summer statue. Before the end of his career, Houdon sculpted portraits of King Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, and other members of the French Court. His last works included depictions of French Emperor Napoleon and Empress Josephine de Beauharnais. He died at the age of 87.

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