Portrait of Christoph Willibald Gluck

Portrait of Christoph Willibald Gluck

c. 1775

Jean-Antoine Houdon

(French, 1741-1828)


Overall: 49.5 x 40 x 28.5 cm (19 1/2 x 15 3/4 x 11 1/4 in.); with base: 64 x 39.3 x 28.1 cm (25 3/16 x 15 1/2 x 11 1/16 in.)

Leonard C. Hanna, Jr. Fund 1988.59


A well-known composer of the 1700s, Gluck reformed opera by bringing unprecedented simplicity and sincerity to his music and staging, qualities shared by Houdon’s bust. This portrait, by depicting Gluck’s pockmarked face, was perceived as a natural and truthful representation. Yet, he would never have appeared publicly with unkempt hair and an open collar, which constituted the standard for representing an artist.

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