Wax Models

David generally employed wax to produce the models for his bronze portrait medallions. His friend Victor Pavie provides a good description of the process: “On a slate plaque as large as half a hand rested a ball of wax, the size and color of an acerola berry. He divided it into boldly marked planes and, in a few strokes of the modeling tool, had conferred the first outlines of the human form.” Although few have survived, the models for David’s medallions have a remarkable freshness and immediacy. Their surfaces combine moments of precise, subtle modeling with explosions of deep and roughly carved furrows. They visibly bear the pressings of David’s fingertips, and the slate supports often include his and his sitters’ scratched names.

Émile Deschamps, 1829
Wax on slate
13.3 x 12.1 cm
Collection Carol and Herbert Diamond

Cat. 7

Émile Deschamps, 1829
Bronze
12 cm diameter
Collection Carol and Herbert Diamond

Cat. 26

The Abbé de Lamennais, 1831
Wax on slate
16.5 x 14 cm
Private collection

Cat. 9

The Abbé de Lamennais, 1831
Bronze
Approximately 15.5 cm diameter
Private collection

Cat. 32