La Marseillaise - A bozzetto

Oil on canvas
Signed and Dated: "A: Scheffer 1826"
7 1/2 x 9 1/2 inches (19 x 24 cms)
Essay: 

La Marseillaise was painted by Scheffer in about 1826 but is now lost. The final composition is known only from an engraving in the reverse by E. Leroux of 1835.

This representation draws its inspiration from the historical narrative given by Jules Michelet in his 'History of the French Revolution' published between 1847 and 1853: "Contrary to popular belief, it was not during a family dinner that the sacred song was created. It was amid an emotional crowd'. A coloured engraving by the Gihaut brothers of 1830 and inspired by Scheffer's painting, called 'Arise!' is in the Carnavalet museum. There were a number of other works linked to the painting and a copy was believed to have been in the collection of a Mr Coutan in 1834.

The only other convincingly autograph preparatory sketch by Scheffer is that of the oil sketch on panel (48 x 66.5 cms) now in the Dordrechts Museum (DM/S/29). This cursory and rapidly sketched panel shows less detail than our sketch - the couple embracing to the left differ here and they are shown facing towards us rather than with their back to us in the final version. The background is only suggested in the larger Dordrecht panel. It is interesting to see the process and progress of his thoughts between the two bozzetti and what we know of the final painting.

Provenance: 

Charles Gillman Currier and Caroline Sterling, Paris and subsequently Jackson, Tenessee;
Private Collection, Philadelphia