A maquette is a fine art term and refers to a small mock-up of a fully realized three-dimensional sculpture or architectural project. The word is French for "scale model." Its use in English is somewhat outdated, but artists and architects may use the word to differentiate from other kinds of "models" such as a person who poses for a portrait.
The small model may be made from paper, clay or wax or other material in order to provide a visualization of what the actual sculpture or project would look like when fabricated or built.
A maquette is not only a way for the artist to realize his or her vision for the finished work but can help save money on materials and production time. Painters frequently use similar pre-work modeling, in the form of sketches; a maquette is the three-dimensional version.
The practical uses of maquettes are most apparent when a commissioned work of sculpture is involved. If a particularly large or expensive sculpture is planned, using a maquette can help show how a piece will fit into its potential display space, and allow the person or group commissioning the w...