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New acquisition: Terracotta sculpture by Jean-Baptiste Stouf

Press release -

New acquisition: Terracotta sculpture by Jean-Baptiste Stouf

Purchased by Nationalmuseum last year from a British art dealer, The Faithful Friendship is a rare work by the French sculptor Jean-Baptiste Stouf, exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1795. Stouf was a close friend of Johan Tobias Sergel during their student years in Rome more than two decades earlier. His work is a superb example of French neoclassicism, mixing classically inspired ideals of form with a romanticized cult of friendship.

Nationalmuseum has acquired a terracotta sculpture entitled The Faithful Friendship (La fidèle Amitié), created in 1795 by the French sculptor Jean-Baptiste Stouf (1742–1826) and exhibited at the Paris Salon that same year. The sculpture portrays a woman dressed à l’antique leaning against the altar of friendship and love, guarded by a dog, the symbol of fidelity. She is holding her right hand to her heart, while a dove, the symbol of love, has perched on her shoulder and crowned her with a wreath of flowers from a pomegranate tree, which represents marriage.

Although the motif reflects the French neoclassicists’ fondness for lofty subject matter, the work also has a narrative, literary aspect, with its many allusions to classical myths about lovers such as Hercules and Omphale, and Flora and Zephyr. In Stouf’s allegorical composition, the young woman is a symbol of friendship. Her sentimental, slightly dramatic pose, meanwhile, reinforces the generic nature of the piece, which is typical of the artist’s work at the time of the French Revolution.

The fine, graceful modelling of the woman’s skin in particular indicates that The Faithful Friendship should not be considered a prototype but rather a complete work in its own right. There are no other known versions. The phenomenon of finished terracotta was part of a new trend in the 18th century, when collectors were fascinated by the possibilities the material offered for artistic expression. This gave sculptors an opportunity to show off their creativity and technical skill on a smaller scale. Perhaps the best known creator of terracotta sculptures was Clodion, two of whose works are in Nationalmuseum’s collection. However, the museum’s terracotta collection is dominated by Sergel’s small sculptures, which have now been joined by The Faithful Friendship, by Sergel’s friend Stouf.

Further information
Magnus Olausson, Director of Collections and the Swedish Portrait Gallery,, +46 8 5195 4371
Hanna Tottmar, press officer,, +46 8 5195 4390

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Nationalmuseum is Sweden’s premier museum of art and design. The collections comprise older paintings, sculpture, drawings and graphic art, and applied art and design up to the present day. The museum building is currently under renovation and scheduled to open again in 2017. In the meantime, the museum will continue its activities through collaborations, touring exhibitions and a temporary venue at the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts, Fredsgatan 12, Stockholm. Nationalmuseum collaborates with Svenska Dagbladet, Fältman & Malmén and Grand Hôtel Stockholm. For more information visit


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Press contact Hanna Tottmar +46 (0)8 5195 4400

Welcome to Nationalmuseum Sweden!

Nationalmuseum is Sweden’s museum of art and design. The collections include paintings, sculpture, drawings and graphic art from the 16th century up to the beginning of the 20th century and the collection of applied art and design up to the present day. The total amount of objects is around 700,000. The museum building was closed for five years for an extensive renovation and reopened in autumn 2018. The museum was appointed the Swedish Museum of the Year 2022.

The emphasis of the collection of paintings is on Swedish 18th and 19th century painting. Dutch painting from the 17th century is also well represented, and the French 18th century collection is regarded as one of the best in the world. The works are made by artists such as Rembrandt, Rubens, Goya, Boucher, Watteau, Renoir and Degas as well as Swedish artists such as Anders Zorn, Carl Larsson, Ernst Josephson and Carl Fredrik Hill.

The collection of applied art and design consists of objects such as ceramics, textiles, glass and precious and non-precious metals as well as furniture and books etc. The collection of prints and drawings comprises works by Rembrandt, Watteau, Manet, Sergel, Carl Larsson, Carl Fredrik Hill and Ernst Josephson. Central are the 2,000 master drawings that Carl Gustaf Tessin acquired during his tour of duty as Sweden's ambassador to France in the 18th century.

Art and objects from Nationalmuseum’s collections can also be seen at several royal palaces such as Gripsholm, Drottningholm, Strömsholm, Rosersberg and Ulriksdal as well as in the Swedish Institute in Paris. The museum administers the Swedish National Portrait Gallery at Gripsholm Castle, the world’s oldest national portrait gallery and the Gustavsberg collection with approximately 45,000 objects manufactured at the Gustavsberg Porcelain Factory. Nationalmuseum also curates exhibitions at Nationalmuseum Jamtli and the Gustavsberg Porcelain Museum.

Nationalmuseum is a government authority with a task to promote art, interest in art and knowledge of art and that falls within the remit of the Swedish Ministry of Culture. The responsibility is to preserve and make art accessible and provide knowledge.