The Grand Condé, 1817
35.6 x 17.5 x 14 cm
In 1816, David received a commission for a statue commemorating the seventeenth-century French general known as the Grand Condé (1621–1683). In this, his first major state commission, David defied the conventional repose and heroic nudity of neoclassicism. Presenting a figure garbed in extravagant historical costume and engaged in dramatic action, The Grand Condé captures a pivotal episode when the general hurled his commander’s baton at the enemy before leading his troops forward to reclaim it. David depicts the instant immediately preceding the baton’s release, when the Condé coils like a spring. One contemporary viewer, David later recalled, likened the statue to a hurricane. This is one of two known bronze statuettes of the Condé. The colossal marble was destroyed in World War II.