Study of a Statue of Madame du Barry as Hebe
Between 1770 and 1773, Pajou, a gifted sculptor and superb draughtsman, was commissioned to do no fewer than five different sculptures of Louis XV’s mistress, Madame du Barry. Study of a Statue of Madame du Barry as Hebe was most likely made after one of those sculptures. Hebe was the goddess of youth, and all gods revered her because of her unique power. The Greek goddess was a popular subject in Neo-classical art, and here, Pajou opted to depict her standing on a circular platform besides an eagle. The eagle symbolizes immortality, further calling attention to Hebe’s power. Commissioning a sculpture resembling the one in Pajou’s drawing indicates that Louis XV had deep admiration for Madame du Barry.