Liberty

Liberty, 1839
Bronze
23.8 cm high
Signed and dated; inscribed on front of base, LIBERTÉ LIBERTÉ CHÉRIE / COMBATS AVEC TES DÉFENSEUR (LIBERTY, CHERISHED LIBERTY / FIGHT WITH YOUR DEFENDERS); stamped on base, 57
Foundry mark, Thiébaut frères
Collection Dr. and Mrs. Michael Schlossberg

Cat. 41

An outspoken Republican (for which he was arrested and exiled by Napoleon III), David produced many allegorical likenesses of Liberty. Both of these works envisage her as a militant figure, bearing a rifle and bayonet. In The Massacres of Galicia, Liberty also assumes the role of Clio, muse of history, vengefully inscribing the names of political villains on a gallows. Each work was designed for reproduction and broad distribution, like printed political tracts or religious icons. Of the statuette, David wrote: “I made it so it could be purchased by the people … Let us hope that one day we will see the image of Liberty in humble homes. She is a saint who well deserves the most fervent cult.”