Carved in marble for the Père-Lachaise tomb of Jacob Robles, completed in 1848, Le Silence is the first and best known of more than ten funerary monuments executed by Auguste Préault. Rejecting the more traditional tomb sculpture of his Romantic contemporaries, which incorporated mourning figures and personifications of virtues, Préault's design involved a square plinth topped with the Silence roundel set into an arched block, the whole decorated with heavy swags. The concept for the roundel was inspired by ancient Egyptian representations of the young Horus and the god Nefertem, by Greek images of Harpocrates, god of Silence, and by Roman personifications of Angerona. However, the theatrical effect created by deeply folded and overlapping drapery framing the mask is wholly characteristic of Préault's style.
In 1849, a bronze cast of Le Silence was exhibited at the Salon. Given that Préault's submissions had been consistently rejected by the jury for the previous fifteen years, the work was received with unusual acclaim, the critic Malitourne later writing in L'Artiste, 'Le plus originel et le plus saisissant symbole que nous connaissions du mystère de la mort'. The 1997 Préault exhibition catalogue notes the existence of eleven plaster versions of Le Silence, either in public or private collections.