Cecilia Odescalchi

bronze head of woman with hair wrapped in profile, atop circle of bronze with writing

Cecilia Odescalchi, ca. 1828
15.5 cm diameter
Inscribed, roma; dated, 1815; stamped on reverse, 349
Private collection

Cat. 23

This idealized portrait medallion records the features of David’s first love, Cecilia Odescalchi, a young noblewoman he met while studying in Rome (1812–16). Their ill-fated relationship concluded abruptly with Cecilia’s removal to a convent, where she soon died. Although dated 1815, the portrait is adapted from a bas-relief made by the artist in 1828. Even in death, Cecilia remained David’s muse, and her likeness can be found in many of his sculptures, including the Christening Cup.