PIERRE-JEAN DAVID D’ANGERS (Angers 1788 - 1856 Paris)

Jacques-Joseph-Francois Cassanyès
(Canet-en-Roussillon 1758-1843 Canet-en-Roussillon)

Original terracotta project for a medallion
Diameter: 6 7/8 inches (17.4 cm)
Signed David and dated 1842 under profile
Inscribed Cassanyes center left edge
and ancien representant du peuple français on center right edge

Jacques-Joseph-François Cassanyès was a physician, became mayor of his town in 1790 and was elected to the National Convention in 1792. An ardent republican, he supported the death of Louis XVI, when the conventionnels brought it to a vote. Cassanyès attracted the attention of Napoleon, as it was he who organized the defense of the Roussillon against the Spanish forces in 1793-94. Rather than continue in the military, Cassanyès returned to Canet to resume his quiet life. With the Restoration, Cassanyès was exiled to Switzerland as a result of his support of the death of Louis XVI.

David believed that Cassanyès’ position on the execution of Louis XVI was due to his moral sense of justice, rather than to the ghoulish cruelty exhibited by many of his countrymen during the time of the Revolution. To quote David, “I found that he had the clearest of ideas and that he reasoned in a healthy manner. He was proud of the fact that he had voted for the death of the king, not out of any innate cruelty but out of a sense of justice that wishes to see the most guilty punished.” David created this portrait of the aged revolutionnaire in 1842, the year before his death.