Joseph Pierre Chinard (1756-1813), considered to be one of the great sculptors of his time, is particularly renowned for his portrait sculptures. His busts, faithfully and delicately executed, stand out in particular for the rendering of the flesh and the sculptor's ability to convey the feelings of his subjects. He was favoured by Napoleon Bonaparte and was awarded the gold medal at the Paris Salon in 1808. Although some of his works have been vandalised or dispersed, his works include several portraits of the Bonaparte family (around 1810), the bust of Juliette Récamier (between 1804 and 1808) and that of General Desaix. Our next Classical Arts sale will offer a terracotta bust of a child by Chinard which is one of these remarkable portraits.

Joseph Pierre Chinard (1756-1813)
Child's bust portrait of François Alexis Guiffrey, aged three.
Signed opposite Chinard in Lyon and dated on the side Ventôse an XI.
Interior plastered later.
Label on the back 98
Height: 42,5 cm - Width: 24,5 cm - Depth: 15,5 cm
(Slightly missing)
-Commissioned by the Guiffrey family to Chinard, executed in 1803. [Receipt from Chinard dated 10 germinal of the year XI].
-Guiffrey Collection, inherited by Jules Guiffrey (1840-1918).
-Exhibited at n°57 of the Exhibition of works by the sculptor Chinard, from Lyon to the Pavillon de Marsan (Palais du Louvre), November 1909 - January 1910. Catalogue by Paul Vitry.
-Private collection from Lyon.

It is a portrait of François Alexis Guiffrey, the three-year-old son of the Lyon hatmaker and notable François Guiffrey. This bust was commissioned by the child's father immediately after his death and was made from a cast "sur nature", according to the receipt signed by the sculptor on 10 Germinal of the year XI (31 March 1803). It took Joseph Pierre Chinard only twenty-two days to make this bust. The same receipt tells us that the sculptor produced two busts of the child Guiffrey, one of which appears to be a rare terracotta reproduction of the other.

During the Chinard retrospective of 1909, the bust we are presenting was exhibited next to another child bust (at no. 46) belonging to Madame Doucet and then designated as the presumed portrait of Camille Jordan's son, the latter was of comparable dimensions to ours, also signed by Chinard and also dated ventôse de l'an XI. It is most certainly the other version of the portrait of the Guiffrey child. The Bulletin de la Société de l'histoire de l'art français of 1909 reports: "The child's bust catalogued under n°46 (Camille Jordan's son) is identical, apart from a few variants, to the one designated under n°57 (Guiffrey child)".

The bust from the former Doucet collection was later included in the collection of Mr and Mrs Henry Viguier (sale in Paris, Mes Ader-Picard, Palais Galliera, 21 March 1968) and has since been lost.

Although both busts are in Chinard's hand, the question remains: which one is a reproduction of the other?
We like to think that the bust we are presenting on 23 March, which is the one that the family has kept the longest, is the more accomplished model.


23 March 2023
Aguttes Neuilly

Head of Furniture, sculpture & objects art Department
Grégoire de Thoury 
+33 1 41 92 06 46 •