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The Michelangelo of Paris: David d’Angers

La Douleur, 1811
David d’Angers (1788–1856)
La Douleur, 1811
21 ¼ x 12 5/8 x 10 ¼ inches (54 x 32 x 26 cm)
Collection Roberta J. M. Olson and Alexander B. V. Johnson

Pierre-Jean David d’Angers (1788–1856) was one of the most important sculptors of the nineteenth century.  He was a respected teacher and confidant to innumerable artists and intellectuals including Balzac, Paganini, Goethe and Delacroix.  Victor Hugo once referred to him as the “Michelangelo of Paris;” he was so admired for his talent.  Famous in his own time, he was one of the first living artists to have a permanent institutional exhibition space devoted to his art — however, today, d’Angers is little known.  With the new exhibit David d’Angers: Making the Modern Monument opening September 17, 2013 with several accompanying programs, The Frick Collection has plans to change that awareness.

Study after a Plaster Cast of the Apollo Belvedere, 1814David d’Angers (1788–1856)
Study after a Plaster Cast of the Apollo Belvedere, ca. 1814
Black chalk on laid paper
7 ½ x 10 3/8 inches (19 x 26.5 cm)
Collection Louise Grunwald

d’Angers brilliance lies in his search for balance between “the real” and “the ideal” within his sculpture.  His search began when he was young in his father’s ornamental wood-carving workshop in Angers, France.  Then when old enough, David enrolled in the famed École des Beaux-Arts where he studied under sculptor Philippe-Laurent Roland.  After attracting attention for his work, he was invited to study in the studio of Jacques Louis David.  In 1811, he took first place in the Prix de Rome competition, spending four years in Rome, where he would often frequented the studio of celebrated sculptor Antonio Canova.

Victor Hugo, 1828
David d’Angers (1788–1856)
Victor Hugo, 1828
D: 4 inches (10 cm)
Collection Frances Beatty and Allen Adler

The exhibition organized by Emerson Bowyer, Guest Curator and former Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Fellow, The Frick Collection, assembles forty-eight works by David on paper and in wax, terracotta, marble, bronze, and plaster, as well as rare nineteenth-century reproductions of his work in photographs and engravings. This is the first major exhibition devoted to the artist outside his native France.

Cat-18-NEW- Ann-Buchan-Robinson-MCNY_600

David d’Angers (1788–1856)
Ann Buchan Robinson, 1831
19 ¼ x 9 x 7 ½ inches (48.9 x 22.9 x 19.1 cm)
Museum of the City of New York; Gift of J. Philip Benkard II, 1958

There are several accompanying lectures open to the public including: Sculpting History: David d’Angers and the Romantic Monument (September 18, 6:00 p.m.), Vital Signs: The Art of David d’Angers (October 9, 6:00 p.m.), Music, Virtuosity, and the Stage of Romanticism (October 2, 6:00 p.m.), David d’Angers and the Architectural Stakes of Romantic History (November 14, 6:00 p.m.), and The Romantic Medallion: Collecting David d’Angers’s Portraits (October 29, 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.).  The exhibition will be on view until December 8, 2013.

Grand Condé
David d’Angers (1788–1856)
The Grand Condé, 1817
14 x 6 7/8 x 5 ½ inches (35.6 x 17.5 x 14 cm)
Private collection

To view the exhibit, visit The Frick Collection at 1 East 70th Street, near Fifth Avenue, New York, NY from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Tuesdays through Saturdays; 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Sundays. Closed Mondays and major holidays.  Admission is $20; senior citizens $15; students $10; “pay what you wish” on Sundays from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.  Please note children under ten are not admitted to the Collection.  Telephone:  212.288.0700.  Web:

About the author: Bill Indursky
Bill Indursky is an architect, trend expert, and digital entrepreneur. He is the former founder of V&M (Vintage & Modern (2006-2013)) and the current founder of Design Life Network (DLN). DLN is a MAGAZINE + DESIGN AGENCY + MARKETPLACE + TV CHANNEL promoting inspiring design of all eras online and on TV.

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