Ambroise Paré

Ambroise Paré, 1840
Bronze
47.7 x 20.7 x 17.1 cm
Inscribed underneath base, 29; on base, AMBROISE PARÉ
Foundry mark, F. Barbedienne 
Collection Carol and Herbert Diamond

Cat. 40

“Gesture,” wrote David, “is the language of sculpture.” The sculptor’s maxim is well illustrated by this reduced bronze after his statue of Ambroise Paré, the famous French military doctor and pioneer of modern surgery. The challenge posed by the subject was to simultaneously communicate his qualities of action and thought. David’s elegant solution uses the expressive potential of the human body, creating a vibrant interplay between action and repose. With head bowed and the index finger of his right hand delicately raised to his chin and curling inward, Paré seems lost in contemplation. At the same time, his left hand hovers just above his surgical instruments, ready to seize them should the need arise.