Bust of Madame Sedaine

Augustin Pajou (French, 1730–1809)


Overall (height with socle): 76.8 x 52 x 23 cm (30 1/4 x 20 1/2 x 9 1/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


On View

Ruth and Carl J. Shapiro Gallery (Gallery 246)





Terracotta bust of Mme. Sedaine wearing wig, with curls falling over shoulders, dress draped over breast; facing left. Posthumous cast? Signed and dated Pajou 1781.

Pajou, one of the most important French sculptors of the second half of the eighteenth century, executed this portrait when Madame Sedaine was forty-two years old. The wife of the poet Michel-Jean Sediane, she is sympathetically portrayed as an intelligent and witty woman of the Enlightenment. The sculptor lavished a great deal of attention on the elaborate form and texture of the sitter’s hair and on the soft drapery of her dress - both of which reflect neoclassical models in fashion at the time.


Paper sticker on back, stamped in blue ink: Douanes Francaises Paris/Batignolles/A.T.


Pajou FE 1781


1781, the sitter, Madame Sedaine (Suzanne-Charlotte Sériny, b. 1739 - d. 1826), and her husband, Michel-Jean Sedaine; to their daughter, Anastase-Suzanne Sedaine; by descent within the family [see note 1]. Eugène Kraemer, Paris; April 28-29, 1913, posthumous Kraemer sale, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, lot 98, sold to M. Lowengard, probably Armand Lowengard for Duveen Bros., Inc., New York; sold by Duveen to a private collector, New York; January 26, 1946, anonymous ("N. Y. Private Collector") sale, Parke Bernet Galleries, New York, lot 51, to M. Jacques Helft and Co., for Forsyth Wickes (b. 1876 - d. 1964), New York and Newport, RI; 1965, bequest of Forsyth Wickes to the MFA. (Accession Date: December 24, 1965)

[1] The bust was published as belonging to the marquis de Brisay in the Revue de L'Histoire de Versailles et de Seine-et-Oise, Année 1903 (Versailles, 1905), pp. 118-119, ill. Anastase-Suzanne Sedaine married Achille-Louis-Françios, later marquis de Brisay (d. 1855). See J. D. Draper, "Augustin Pajou, Royal Sculpture: 1730-1809," 1997, p. 250-253, cat. no. 102.

Credit Line

Bequest of Forsyth Wickes—The Forsyth Wickes Collection