Étienne Maurice Falconet (1 December 1716 – 24 January 1791) is counted among the first rank of French Rococo sculptors, whose patron was Madame de Pompadour. Falconet came to prominent public attention in the Salons of 1755 and 1757 with his marble statues of L’Amour and the Nymphe descendant au bain (also called “The Bather”), which is now at the Louvre. In 1757 Falconet was appointed director of the sculpture atelier of the new Manufacture Royale de Porcelaine at Sèvres.
He remained at the Sèvres post until he was invited to Russia by Catherine the Great in September 1766. At St Petersburg he executed a colossal statue of Peter the Great in bronze, known as the Bronze Horseman, together with his pupil and stepdaughter Marie-Anne Collot. In 1788, back in Paris he became director of the Académie des beaux-arts. Many of Falconet’s religious works, commissioned for churches, were destroyed at the time of the French Revolution