Jean Bart

bronze sculpture of standing man in European military uniform with pistol, holding saber aloft (blade detached)

Jean Bart, 1845
41.8 x 22 x 14.5 cm
Signed and dated, 1845; on base, JEAN BART.
Foundry mark, Eck et Durand 
Private collection

Cat. 44

This statuette is a reduced version of David’s gigantic, rousing bronze monument to Jean Bart (1650–1702), a French naval commander and privateer. Bart raises his sword (lost) as he tramples an enemy cannon at his feet. His sailor’s costume whips and curls in the wind, producing an energetic surface and delineating a human form that deviates from the idealized proportions of the classical nude body. David’s monuments were intended to educate and inspire and drew upon nationalism and local pride. The Jean Bart monument was erected in the privateer’s native Dunkirk, its inauguration on September 7, 1845, attended by a crowd of thousands. The statue continues to play a central role in that city’s annual civic rituals.

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