David d’Angers


In his pediment for the Pantheon, a sculptural work depicting the many citizens who advanced the revolutionary cause in France, Pierre-Jean David d'Angers (1788-1856) celebrated the heroism of the individual while perpetuating a mythology of the modern world. Reassessing the art of David d'Angers, Jacques de Caso not only presents him as a central figure of French Romanticism, but also explores his role in shaping the artistic and social directions of French sculpture during this period. The author shows how David's ardent Republicanism, which resulted from profound reflections on political, social and cultural realities as well as personal ideals, was expressed in monumental sculpted works that often created scandal and controversy. A prolific writer, David maintained ties with famous Romantic poets, novelists, critics, and philosophers and was praised by Delacroix for his literary production. De Caso offers the first English translations of his writings, including the newly discovered correspondence between David and the German physician and painter Carl Gustav Carus, to elucidate the sculptor's complex ideas concerning artistic expression and political responsibility. While examining groups of David's sculpted works within their intellectual, aesthetic, and cultural contexts, he reveals how the system of signs inherent in public sculpture enabled it to become a primary mode of communication during the Romantic period.

Publication date: 
January 27, 1992
Publication type: