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.

  • sculpted orange wax head of man in profile against slate background

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

    Cat. 7

  • sculpted brown wax bust of man in profile, against slate background

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

    Cat. 9

  • bronze head of man with sideburns in profile, atop circle of bronze with writing

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

    Cat. 26

  • bronze bust of man in profile atop circle of bronze with writing

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

    Cat. 32

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