Tuesday, 25 November 2014
Deseine's bust of Robespierre
This beautiful terracotta statue of Robespierre, on display in the Musée de la Révolution française at Vizille, is identified today as the work of the sculptor Claude-André Deseine. It is recorded that on the evening of 18th December 1791 Deseine presented this bust, together with one of Pétion, to the Jacobin Club which had recently elected to adorn its meeting room with sculptures of "champions of liberty"( Rousseau, FrankIin, Mably, Price and Mirabeau). Members were at first enthusiastic, then one of their number recalled that a month previously it had been decided that no living citizen could have their effigy displayed.
Robespierre himself remained silent all this time, but seemed impatient to resume discussion of the war and to deliver the speech he had prepared. In April 1792, however, he recalled with approval to the provincial Jacobins the ruling of the Paris society.
The statue has been in the possession of the Musée de la Révolution française only since 1986 and there is little information available about its provenance; apparently the identification was made by Maria Antonietta De Angelis in a manuscript work of 1992 (see Bordes, "Le robespierrisme", p.132)
At the Musée de la Révolution française de Vizille:
Philippe Bordes, "Le robespierrisme de Jacques-Louis David" in Annie Jourdain, Robespierre: figure-réputation (1996) [Google eBook] p.131-2.