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Jacques-Louis David (Paris 1748-1825 Brussels)
PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION, LA JOLLA, CALIFORNIA (LOTS 21, 27, 46, 90 AND 98)
Jacques-Louis David (Paris 1748-1825 Brussels)

Pope Pius VII, in profile, bust length

Details
Jacques-Louis David (Paris 1748-1825 Brussels)
Pope Pius VII, in profile, bust length
signed 'L.D.' and with inscription 'VII/Esquisse de Pie VII par David 1817' (recto), and with extensive inscriptions on a label attached to the verso
pen and brown ink on limestone
4¼ x 3½ in. (107 x 91 mm.)
Provenance
Probably Baron Alquier; Paris, 27 June 1825, lot. 80 (Portrait de S.S. Pie VII dessiné à la pierre dure).
Robinson, Rokeby Hall, Dunleer; Sotheby's, London, 24 June 1978, lot 22 ('on prepared ivory').
Anonymous sale; Christie's, South Kensington, 5 December 1997, lot 275.
Literature
P. Rosenberg and L.-A. Prat, Jacques-Louis David, 1748-1825: catalogue raisonné des dessins, Milan, 2002, I, no. 336.

Lot Essay

Although David had the occasion to meet Pius VII only during the latter's sojourn in Paris in 1804-5 for Napoleon's coronation, the memory of the pope seems to have haunted the artist as he continued to draw his effigy years after their meeting.
Six drawn portraits of Pius VII dating from David's exile in Brussels after 1816 are today known (P. Rosenberg and L.-A. Prat, op. cit nos. 336, 336bis and ter, 337-38, and 358), but at least two more are documented in old auction catalogues.
David seems to have had admired the Pope. According to his student and biographer, E.-J. Delecluze, he remarked: 'Quelle belle tête il a! Une tête bien italienne; l'enchassement de l'oeil grand, bien prononcé! Celui-là est vraiment pape: c'est un vrai prêtre... Il est pauvre comme saint Pierre' (Louis David, son école et son temps, Paris, 1855, p. 248). But his affection fro Pius VII was partly born of personal ambition, as he admitted himself: 'J'avoue que j'ai longtemps envié aux grands peintres qui m'ont précédé des occasions que je ne croyais jamais rencontrer. J'aurai peint un empereur et enfin un pape !' (op. cit., p. 249).

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