He was born in Paris, the seventh child of a carpenter. Although he failed to obtain the Grand Prix, after a severe struggle he entered the Académie Royale and became one of the most popular sculptors of his day.
His earlier work, such as Child with Cage (model at Sèvres) and Mercury Fastening his Sandals (Berlin, and lead cast in Louvre), is less commonplace than that of his more mature years, but his nude statue of Voltaire, dated 1776 (initially in the Institut de France, purchased by the Louvre in 1962), and his tombs of Comte d'Harcourt (c. 1764) (Notre Dame de Paris) and of Marshal Saxe, completed in 1777 (Saint-Thomas Lutheran church, Strasbourg), are good examples of French sculpture in the 18th century.
He died in Paris.
- Barton, Eleanor Dodge Barton (1976). "Pigalle, Jean Baptiste". In William D. Halsey. Collier's Encyclopedia 19. New York: Macmillan Educational Corporation. p. 43.
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