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Saint Vincent de Paul (1581–1660) dedicated his life to helping the poorest of the poor in France, including abandoned and abused children. About a hundred years later, during the Enlightenment, when the French celebrated scientific reasoning and individual liberty, he was one of the few religious personages honored with a statue in the Great Men of France series, installed in the Louvre’s Grande Galerie. This terra-cotta model is the only record of Stouf’s first proposal for the statue. Severely criticized for showing only the saint’s compassion and not his active deed of charity, Stouf modified the sculpture. His final version shows the saint lifting a child off the ground, symbolizing the children’s salvation.

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