Wax Models

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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.