(c. 1510-1565)
Jean Goujon was the major force in sculpture, particularly in relief, in mid-sixteenth-century France. His court-related commissions, often executed in col­laboration with other artists and architects, define French Renaissance sculpture.
Goujon's earliest work is in Rouen. Traditionally attributed to him are col­umns in the Church of St. Maclou that feature an authentic classicism rather alien to France in the 1540s. It is assumed that Goujon played a design role in other works there, including the large wall tomb of Louis de Breízeí, seneschal of Normandy (1544), most likely commissioned by his widow, Diane de Poi­tiers.*
By 1544 Goujon was working in Paris in partnership with the architect Pierre Lescot, with whom he would associate himself for the rest of his career. Gou-jon's distinctive low-relief figurai style emerges in sculptures intended for the rood screen at St. Germain l'Auxerrois (now in the Louvre). One of these, The Deposition, demonstrates his assimilation of classical forms and draperies via the Italian Renaissance (as represented in prints or by artists active in France), while emphasizing decorative surface patterns. This work led to commissions in 1545 from Anne, duc de Montmorency and grand constable of France, for his chateau at Ecouen. Specific details regarding Goujon's work there are lack­ing.
Goujon returned to Paris to work on the triumphal entry of the new king, Henri II, in 1549. For this event he made the Fontaine des Innocents, his best-known and most complex work, incorporating architecture (probably by Lescot) and sculpture in relief. As originally built, between 1547 and 1549, its rectan­gular structure abutted a corner; an eighteenth-century restoration left it free­standing. Goujon's large-scale decorative reliefs feature elegant classically draped nymphs standing in contrapposto poses and carrying urns from which water poured into the fountain.
In 1550 Goujon collaborated further with Lescot, providing sculptural deco­ration for the new Cour Carree at the Louvre, both for the facade (subsequently altered) and for the interior. Inside—in something totally new for France - Goujon produced four classically inspired, but proportionately more lithe, car­yatids (sculpted in the round) to hold up a balcony. Indicative also of his ex­pertise in classical forms, Goujon provided illustrations for the influential French translation of the only surviving ancient architectural treatise, that of Vitruvius (Paris, 1547). Because he was a Protestant, Goujon left France at the outbreak of the first religious war (1562). Records imply his presence in Bologna in 1563, but no further artworks are known. Goujon was the most important sculptor of the French Renaissance, and his work uniquely embodies his thorough ground­ing in the antique tempered by his propensity for elegance.
A. Blunt, Art and Architecture in France, 1500 to 1700, 1970.
N. Miller, French Renaissance Fountains, 1977.
J. Thirion, "Jean Goujon," in The Dictionary of Art, 13, 1996: 225-27.
Sheila ffolliott

Renaissance and Reformation 1500-1620: A Biographical Dictionary. . 2001.

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