Germain Pilon (b. 1525-1590) was on of the most celebrated French sculptors of the second half of the 16th century and became the chief sculptor after the exile of Jean Goujon in 1562. He was the founder of a well know artistic family. Two of his sons including Raphael Pilon (1559-90) and Germain Pilon the younger (b. 1571) also became sculptors, and his daughter Claude Pilon (b 1564) married the painter Nicolas Leblond in 1583.
The Three Graces or the Heart of Henry II was created by Pilon between 1561 and 1565 having been commissioned by Primaticcio, who was Srientednant des Bâtiments du Roi, on behalf of Heny II's widow Catherine de'Medici. The design for the figural group is based on two sources, firstly after the antique group in the library of Sienna Cathedral and on an engraving by Marcantonic Raimondi, of Raphael's design of an incense burner for Francis I. Jacque Thirion describes the work as 'strongly three-dimensional. This feeling for plasticity, combined with an elegant Mannerist treatment of the human form, the measured balance of the figures' poses, the ambiguous charm of their faces and the subtle arrangement of draperies henceforward formed the chief characteristics of Pilon's style.' See Jacques Thirion. "Pilon, Germain." Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online, updated November 26, 2003.
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