Originally from Brussels, Godecharle trained in the workshop of Laurent Delvaux, the crucible of a new generation of Neoclassical Walloon sculptors. He was awarded an annual pension granted by Charles-Alexandre of Lorraine, Governor of the Austrian Netherlands. In 1772, he arrived in Paris where he joined the circle of Flemish sculptors gathered around Jean-Pierre-Antoine Tassaert while at the same time continuing his training under Pigalle at the Académie. In June 1775, he accompanied Tassaert to Berlin, where the latter had just been named sculptor to the court of Prussia, and then went on to Rome in 1778, after a short stay in London. Upon returning to Brussels the following year, he was appointed sculptor to the court of the Austrian governors and took part in the creation of numerous official monuments, including the seat of the Sovereign Council of Brabant (the current Palais de la Nation) to which he contributed the pediment depicting Justice Rewarding Virtue, Protecting the Weak and Banishing the Vices. A protégé of Albert of Saxony-Teschen, the new Governor of the Austrian Netherlands, he was commissioned to create the sculptures for his new palace at Laeken. Godecharle's activity during the revolutionary period is not documented and he made a number of visits to Paris under the Empire, where he made numerous copies of French sculptures for the decoration of parks, of which that of the château of Wespelaar is certainly his most important achievement and which occupied him until the end of his career.
In 1786, when Godecharle sculpted this Pomona with its elegant lines, he was working full time for Albert of Saxony-Teschen (1738-1822), Governor-General of the Austrian Netherlands from 1790-1794, and his wife Maria-Christina of Austria (1742-1798), notably at the palace of Laeken before it fell under French control in 1794. The sculpture may hark back to Godecharle's early days; when the young man entered the studio of Laurent Delvaux, around 1768-69, the master was already at work on a Pomona and a Flora for the parterres of the palace of Charles-Alexandre of Lorraine in Brussels (today in the Parc Royal in Brussels).
The fine and closely gathered folds of the antique drapery masterfully coaxed from the stone by the sculptor and the softened Neoclassicism of Pomona – oscillating between a form of classical hieraticism and the graceful femininity of the nymph's figure – are comparable to those of Godecharle's allegories of Charity and Faith in the Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Brussels (inv. 611 and 6512). They are likewise comparable to the figures of Flora, around 1788, and Diana, around 1810, images of which are preserved on slides that can be consulted in the iconographic archive of the University of Leuven (Royal Palace of Laeken).
This work will be included in the monograph and catalogue raisonné of the work of Gille-Lambert Godecharle, currently being prepared by Alain Jacobs.
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