In early 1845, David wrote of his recent acquittal of “a sacred debt,” the modeling of a double-sided medal commemorating a group of Republican martyrs known as the Four Sergeants of La Rochelle. David had drawn their likenesses while the men languished in prison, prior to theirexecution in 1822.

Shown here are separate bronze casts of the medal’s obverse and reverse, as well as a delicate drawing after the former. The drawing served as the model for a lithographic print published in L’Artiste in 1846. In the accompanying article, the critic Alphonse Esquiros notes that a medal “has the advantage of being a monument in circulation, and puts an idea in everyone’s hands.” The distribution of the lithographic prints after David’s medal only extended this function.

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