French School 19th century
Louis XVI called to Immortality, sustained by an Angel, after a sculpture by Joseph Bosio in the Chapelle Expiatoire, Paris
Black chalk, stumping and gumming.
450 x 360 mm – 17,72 x 14,17 in.
With a stunning technique, this drawing reproduces a sculpture executed by François Joseph Bosio for the Chapelle Expiatoire (Paris, square Louis-XVI), placing it on a background that evokes the dark sky of a black and cloudy night.
When he came into power, Louis XVIII decided to commission the architect Pierre-François-Léonard Fontaine with the edification of a commemorative chapel, later to be called “expiatoire” (penitential). It was built on the former location of the Madeleine cemetery, where the King’s and Queen’s bodies had been buried before their transfer to Saint-Denis basilica on 21 January 1815. The monument was erected between 1815 and 1826, and Bosio was commissioned a sculpture representing Louis XVI called to Immortality, sustained by an Angel.
Although it reproduces Bosio’s sculpture, this drawing is a work of art per se. It was intended to support memory and to inspire devotion and respect for the sacrificed King, who is sustained by an Angel just like Jesus-Christ. The drawing background’s soft texture reminds of the velvet that covered the “chapelle ardentes” – ephemeral constructions built to host the King’s body – or the walls, ground, and windows during funeral ceremonies of the royal family members. Very characteristic of the Bourbon Restoration, this impressive drawing fully illustrates the grief felt by a part of the French population and politicized by the returned to power Monarchists.
Condition reports – Darkened paper, a tear in Louis XVI’s right hand, some small abrasions and around the angel’s left hand