DAVID d'Angers
(b. 1788, Angers, d. 1856, Paris)

Biography

French sculptor (original name Pierre-Jean David) called after his birthplace to distinguish him from the painter Jacques-Louis David. The son of a sculptor, he won the Prix de Rome in 1811 and was in Rome until 1816, when he returned to France via London, in order to see the Elgin marbles (which had just been bought for the British Museum) and to meet Flaxman, to whom he carried a letter of introduction from Canova. Canova was the main influence on him and his rather chilly classicism is redeemed by his great technical skill. His Bourcke and Foy monuments (1821 and 1825, both in Pere Lachaise cemetery, Paris), the bloodless Racine (1827, La Ferté Milon, Racine's birthplace), and the bombastic Philipoemen (1837, Louvre) are examples of the Pompier (pompous) style, against which younger painters (though not sculptors) were already rebelling.

After the 1848 Revolution he was imprisoned and then exiled to Brussels. He visited Greece in 1852, but was horrified by the neglect of ancient monuments, the total absence of any surviving artistic impulse, and by the vandalism perpetrated upon his Greek Girl Mourning (1827), which he had given as a monument to the patriot Botzaris, who had died with Byron at Missolonghi. He was allowed to return to Paris in 1853, but ill-health prevented further work.

His most important works are the 500-odd portrait medallions, representing almost every major figure of the time. He presented a cast of each, with casts of his other works, to his native Angers. Many other French museums have works: there is a portrait bust of Jeremy Bentham in the Senate House of the University of London.



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