Lambert-Sigisbert Adam (10 October 1700 - 12 May 1759), French sculptor, known as Adam l’aine ("the elder") to distinguish him from his two sculptor brothers, was born in Nancy, the eldest son of sculptor Jacob-Sigisbert Adam.
In 1723 Adam received the Prix de Rome for study at the French Academy in Rome. In Rome Adam restored with much ability and late-Baroque freedom of interpretation a disparate group of fragmentary Roman sculptures, to form a much-admired ensemble depicting Achilles and the Daughters of Lycomedes that was purchased by the French Ambassador to the Holy See, Cardinal Melchior de Polignac, and was purchased from his estate by Frederick the Great for Potsdam. For the ensemble Adam reworked draped torsos of Apollo Musagetes type for the figures of Odysseus and Achilles. The head of Achilles was modelled on the antiquarian Philipp von Stosch, "a notorious spy, homoerotic fop and gem collector" Adam was elected a member of the Roman artists' guild, the Accademia di San Luca in 1732. He was a pensionnaire of the Academy in 1732 when he was one of the sixteen sculptors and designers who submitted plans for the new Trevi Fountain; his design was unanimously accepted, and the process by which the decision was reversed in favour of Luigi Vanvitelli's are not altogether clear; Roman reaction against a foreigner receiving the commission seems to have played a part, and in a letter of 1741 Adam wrote that not having received prior permission to compete from the director of the Academy, Charles Wleughels, Adam was recalled home to Paris, in 1733, as punishment.
Adam was thirty-seven when, on his election to the Academie royale de peinture et de sculpture, he exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1737 the model of the colossal group of Neptune and Amphitrite that was afterwards cast in lead for the central fountain in the Bassin de Neptune at Versailles, and it made his reputation; thereafter he found much employment in the decoration of the royal residences and in garden sculpture and fountains.
The dramatic realisation of his figure of Neptune (illustration, below right) might lead one to expect that he would have been in demand for portrait busts; in fact, aside from the bust of the portrait-painter Hyacinthe Rigaud (1726), and two versions of the young Louis XV as Apollo, none have been identified.
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