François Girardon: Apollo Served by the Nymphs, c. 1666.
Born in Troyes, Girardon was the closest collaborator of Le Brun, and also the protégé of the Chancellor Séguier. Sent to Rome where he studied antique art, he worked on the decor of the Apollo Gallery of the Louvre, his first royal commission (1659), then in the Tuileries. Arriving in Versailles in 1666, he began with a masterstroke: the group of Apollo Served by the Nymphs. Placed in the center of the grotto of Thetys, it was installed in the 18th century in the grotto designed by Hubert Robert. Inspired by antique models, the elegance of its figures made it the manifesto of classical statuary of the 17th century.