Jean Jacques Pradier, better known as James, was one of the pre-eminent Neoclassical sculptors of the early-19th century. Born in Geneva to a French family, Pradier and his two brothers trained as sculptors from a young age. As the most talented of the trio, James was sponsored by Napoleon’s Superintendent of Arts, Dominique Vivant Denon, to study in Paris at the Ecole de Beaux Arts, where he worked with painter Baron Gérard and studied sculpture under François-Frédéric Lemot.
Pradier’s first major success was winning the Prix de Rome in 1813 with his model of Neoptolemus Prevents Philoctetes from Loosing His Arrows Against Ulysses. He later went on to win a first-class medal at the Salon of 1819 with a marble model of a Nymph. These early successes ensured Pradier a steady stream of public commissions, including his Monument to the Duc de Berry executed in 1821, four bas-reliefs of Fame for the Arc de Triomphe at the Place de l'Étoile in 1829, the monumental statues of Liberty and Public Order for the Chamber of Deputies in the Assemblée Nationale in 1832, several statues for the Palais du Luxembourg, and in 1843 the twelve marble Victories that guard Napoleon’s tomb at the Dôme des Invalides.