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Louis Lafitte*(French, 1770-1828)

The dying Gladiator

signed and dated 'Lafitte in Roma 1793' and with inscription 'Par Lafitte 1793' on the mount; black chalk, pen and brown ink, brown wash, watermark posthorn in a cartouche on wove paper
4¼ x 6 5/8in. (106 x 167mm.)
From an album assembled by Madame Jacques-Félix Duban (1797-1871), born Debret, to her nephew, Paul Duvivier de Streel, and thence by descent to the present owner.

Lot Essay

Related to the picture exhibited at the Salon of 1795 and donated to the Louvre by George Younger in 1920 in remembrance of the British and French soldiers who died during the First World War, I. Compin and A. Roquebert, Catalogue sommaire illustré des peintures du musée du Louvre et du musée d'Orsay, Ecole française, Paris, 1986, II, p. 23, illustrated. This was the first picture Lafitte exhibited in the Salon. The composition of the picture and drawing show very few differences, the latter possibly being a riccordo of the former by the artist.
Lafitte studied with Jean-Baptiste Regnault in Paris; he won the Prix de Rome in 1791 with the painting Regulus returning to Carthage, and arrived in Italy the same year. He was accepted at the Academy of Florence in 1793.
Lafitte was inspired by The Dying Gladiator, a celebrated antique sculpture first recorded in the Ludovisi collection in Rome in 1623 and acquired a hundred years later by Clement XII for the Capitoline Museum. Between 1797 and 1816 the sculpture was confiscated by Bonaparte and sent to the Musée Central des Arts in Paris. A copy of The Dying Gladiator was carved in marble before 1684 by Monier and sent to Versailles. A plaster copy was kept for the Académie de France in Rome.

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