PIERRE-JEAN DAVID D'ANGERS (Angers 1788 - 1856 Paris)
Théophile Gautier (Tarbes 1811-1872 Neully-sur-Seine)
Cast bronze with dark brown patina
Diameter: 7 ¼ inches (184 mm)
Inscribed Theophile Gautier, left margin
Signed David and dated 1845, under neck
Foundry mark Eck et Durand, reverse (marred)
Poet, novelist and critic Théophile Gautier was an important figure in the French Romantic movement and an early champion of the idea of “art for art’s sake.”
Born in Tarbes in southwestern France, Gautier moved to Paris with his family in 1814. He initially aspired to be a painter, but his interest in literature was stimulated by his contact with the dramatist and author Victor Hugo, whom he met through Gérard de Nerval, his fellow student at the Collège Charlemagne who would go on to become a writer and Gautier’s lifelong friend.
Gautier was a prolific writer, penning poems, plays, novels, short stories, and travel books, as well as numerous contributions to journals such as La Presse, Le Moniteur universel, and Le Figaro, as an art, literary, theater, and dance critic. Gautier served as director of Revue de Paris from 1851 to 1856, the year he became editor of the review L’Artiste. His literary fame flourished in the 1860s. In 1862 he was elected chairman of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, when its board members included Eugène Delacroix, Édouard Manet, Gustave Doré and Pierre Puvis de Chavannes. In 1865 he was admitted to the salon of Princess Mathilde Bonaparte, who in 1868 offered him a sinecure as her librarian.
Pierre-Jean David d’Angers was arguably the most important sculptor France produced at the beginning of the 19th century. Among other achievements, he is renowned for the Galerie des Contemporains, his personal pantheon of great men and women in medallic form that he produced during his lifetime. David’s galerie would eventually number over five hundred portraits including politicians, writers, artists, musicians, composers and actors, inspired—in part—by David’s ardent republican sympathies.
In the last decades before Louis-Jacques Daguerre’s (1787-1851) invention of photography, David’s Galerie des Contemporains created a virtual pantheon of the international Romantic Movement in cast bronze.