GALLERIES/Stuart Lochhead Sculpture
PROVENANCE:Private Collection, France.
David d’Angers ‘Démocrate de l’Ouest‘, 1849
Emerson Bowyer, ‘David D’Angers: Making the Modern Monument‘, The Frick Collection, New York, 2013
Patrick le Nouëne, Catherine Lesseur, Véronique Boidard, ‘David d’Anger’s Portraitiste: catalogue sommaire des bustes de PJ David d’Angers conservés à la Galerie David d’Angers’ Musée d’Angers, 2010
FURTHER INFORMATION:When Pierre-Jean David returned to Paris in 1816, having won the Prix de Rome in 1811, his career as a sculptor ascended into success. Many of the most famous men and women of his time sat for David for busts or medallions. A nearly complete collection can be found in the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Angers, France. Fascinated by important figures, David travelled throughout France and Europe to model busts of his contemporaries from the political, literary and artistic spheres, among such were his busts of Victor Hugo, poet, novelist and dramatist, (1837) and Goacchino Rossini, the acclaimed opera composer (1830). The present example, David's bust of Jean Racine (1639-1699), is modelled on the French dramatic poet and historiographer renowned for his mastery of French classical tragedy. Racine's reputation rests on plays he wrote between 1664 and 1691, most notably 'Andromaque', 'Britannicus', 'Bérénice', 'Bajaget' and 'Phèdre' and 'Athalie', some of which can be seen engraved on the right hand side of the bust's pedestal. The playwright was renowned for his exceptional psychological insight in addition to the prevailing passion of his characters, and the elegance, pace and power to be found in his writing. As is evident in the present work, Romantic sculptors such as David "claimed the right to emphasise character." Additionally, he concentrated fully upon the facial (1) expression of his subject and the physical structure or shape of the skull, demonstrating accordance with physiognomic theories in vogue at the time and, therefore, capturing the sitters intrinsic and individual character or spirit. As is evident in his extensive travel, seeking out renowned sitters, David's intentions in the creation of his colossal busts was one that 'preoccupied many Romantic artists - the permanent visualisation of "genius" in all its multiple and fleeting manifestations'(2), and this particular representation of a prominent figure in the history of literature is certainly no exception.
1. Léon Rosethal, 'Romanticism' (Parkstone International), 2012
2. Emerson Bowyer, 'David d'Angers: Making the Modern Monument', (The Frick Collection: New York), 2013