Jean-Baptist Defernex (1729–1783) was a French artist best known for his portrait busts, most often of women.
Little is known of his early training, but he started as a modeler at the Sèvres factory. He was sculptor to the Duc d'Orléans and worked on gilded lead statue groups of children at the Palais-Royal. He was not a member of the Royal Academy, but rather that of St. Luke. He had a school for sculpture and drawing; Louis Jean-Jacques Durameau studied there.
Defernex received no official commissions, and his art seems to have been regarded as rather unfashionable. His portrait busts have been compared to those of Jean-Baptiste Greuze and described as "honest, unidealized, quite free from gallant flattery": "All the graces and tender amorous atmosphere that floated about Madame Favart," the singer and actress who was the subject of a 1762 work, "seem dispelled by his convincingly truthful bust of her."
Other works include:
- Distressed Spirit (1768), a marble fragment of a funeral monument that was destroyed during the French Revolution;
- plaster bust of Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon (1772);
- The Milkmaid (1754/60), an example of his Sèvres porcelain, modeled after a work created by François Boucher for Madame de Pompadour's dairy at Crécy.
- Three works (Distressed Spirit, bust of Madame Favart, The Milkmaid) among the collections of the Louvre.
- Jean-Baptiste Defernex in American public collections, on the French Sculpture Census website
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