Wax and Terracotta

  • 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

  • brown terracotta sculpture of woman in a dress, seated in a chair, holding chin

    Seated Woman, ca. 1830s
    19 x 15.5 cm
    Collection Dr. and Mrs. Michael Schlossberg

    Cat. 8

    David had little patience for the eroticized mythological nudes that jostled for attention each year at the Paris Salon. Accordingly, this elegant terracotta sketch depicts a woman in modern dress, possibly interrupted in the act of reading. Yet this apparently everyday moment may also be an update of the centuries-old pictorial convention of seated muses. For David, terracotta sketches were important records of an artist’s first thoughts. He presented them only to close friends who he believed could appreciate their suggestive, unfinished qualities.

  • 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

  • sculpted red wax head of balding man in profile against slate background

    Pierre-René Choudieu, 1832
    Wax on slate
    14 x 12.4 cm
    Collection Dr. Stephen K. and Janie Woo Scher

    Cat. 10

    “I pursue always my gallery of great men,” wrote David in 1830–31. “One sees me, running with my little slate, as if I were going to meet immortality.” The city of Angers was well known for its local slate quarries, and David used the stone as a support for his wax models. In this portrait of a Republican politician and prosecutor, the deep blue-green slate provides a lively contrast to the vibrant red of the tinted wax. David’s interest in portraiture reflects the dramatic increase in popularity of that genre in the early nineteenth century. For David, one of the most prolific portraitists of his age, the depiction of the human face was “the great career to which modern art is called.”

  • brown wood, wax, and graphite cup with carved image of mother and child

    Christening Cup, 1835
    Wood, wax, and graphite
    18.9 cm high
    Collection Pierre Bergé

    Cat. 11

  • brown terracotta sculpture of strong standing man wearing helmet and holding a cloak over his arm

    Model for the Philopoemen, 1837
    31 x 10.5 x 10.3 cm 
    Inscribed in ink on base, à Victor Pavie
    Collection Roberta J. M. Olson and Alexander B. V. Johnson

    Cat. 12

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