As a student under Jouffrey, Falguière benefited from an enviable and respected education at The École des Beaux-Arts. Another student of Jouffrey was the notable sculptor Marius Jean Antonin Mercié. Falguière, himself also took Mercié under his tutelage, imparting his own talents and slightly more modern values to Mercié, fifteen years his junior as well as many other students.
Falguière’s education began by studying the classics, the influence of which can be seen even from his earliest works. Quickly he rose to recognition and made his debut at the Paris Salon in 1859. He received numerous awards for his work, among them the award for sculpture from the Exposition Universelle de Paris in 1867.
Falguiére’s works were met with much success and distinction during his career. An unmistakable quality persists in his works; each possesses a particular robustness and strength as well as a marked sense of assurance.
Falguière holds a place not only amongst the great French sculptors, but also as an important link bto our American sculptors such as Frederick MacMonnies and Augustus Saint-Gaudens. He was a teacher and Rodin figured as one of his pupils. Falguière’s first full length Diana was exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1882 in plaster. It was well received and thus five years later Falguière modelled a reduction of it in marble. In mythology Diana is a chaste goddess and prior to Falguière she would normally be depicted in some sort of garment. It created some reaction that Falguière chose to depict her nude. Diana, whose alternate name is Artemis, was a huntress but is also identified with the personification of the moon. Thus the crescent is often depicted on her head. Falguière claimed he created Dianas throughout time because they are successful subjects. He was highly successful with this model which was the goal of many sculptors in 19th century France - not to sculpt one of a kind works but to have great success and find models they could sell over and over again. The bust of this work became one of the most successful heads of the later 19th century.
This marble would be one of a number done in marble. The bow appears to be of the age of the piece and is very finely tooled. The work translates in marble beautifully as the purity of the white tone accentuates the clean lines and forms. Few sculptors since have created a finer composition or a more memorable and iconic image of Diana. Even Augustus Saint-Gauden’s Diana is a nod to this work.
P. Fusco and H.W. Janson, The Romantics to Rodin, exhib. Cat., Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1980, pp. 258-9, no. 130