1602-07-06

JÈRÔME DUQUESNOY, Belgian sculptor, born (d: 1654); Flemish artist Jérôme (Hieronymus) Duquesnoy was one of the most renowned sculptors of the 17th century, but for decades after his death he was better known for his conviction and execution on charges of sodomy than for his impish yet polished style of sculpture. Born into a Brussels family of artists at the beginning of the seventeenth century, Jérôme Duquesnoy lived his first twenty years in the shadow of his famous father, Jérôme Duquesnoy the Elder (who re-cast the famous Mannekin Pis [1619], the urinating boy that still stands as Brussels’ signature fountain) and his brother François, who showed artistic promise at an early age.

Like his brother he was trained in his father’s studio. After a long stay in the service of Philip IV, he traveled to Florence in 1640 and a year later settled in Rome with his brother. On Francois’s death in 1643, Jérôme returned to Brussels where he carved several statues of the apostles.

He was at work on several projects at the cathedral of St. Bavon in Ghent, where his best sculptures were executed, when he was, alas,  arrested for sodomy with two acolytes of the church who had served as his models. The brilliance of his work for the church notwithstanding, he was strangled then burned at the stake, a double death, which, under the circumstances, seems to be a case of clerical overkill and a terrible waste of matches. But you know, the Roman Catholic Church has really strict rules about messing around with children.