This compelling patinated bronze sculpture was cast from a model made by the famous French sculptor, Adrien Etienne Gaudez (1844-1902). Gaudez was trained by the artist Francois Jouffroy before studying at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Gaudez began exhibiting at the Paris Salon in 1864 and showcased the model for this sculpture there in 1884 to great acclaim. He is best remembered for his works which have a military or patriotic theme.
Titled ‘Pro Patria’—from a line by the Roman poet, Horace: ‘dulce et docorum est pro patria mori’ (‘it is sweet and proper to die for one’s country’)—this sculpture depicts a soldier, accompanied by an allegory of the French Republic. The solider is depicted as a full-length, semi-nude male figure who grasps the hilt of his sword, ready to unsheathe it. He looks off into the distance, a determined expression on his face. A female figure in a classical style dress stands behind the man and towers above him from her raised position on a grassy mound. She holds a flag inscribed ‘Pro Patria’ in one hand and points with the other, directing the man’s gaze to something in the distance. This woman is a personification of the Republic and she appears to be urging the man on to battle, to fight and possibly die for France.
The sculpture is set on a circular base which is signed ‘A. Gaudez’. The front of the base also features a cartouche which is inscribed ‘Pro Patria/ Par A. Gaudez/ Hors Concours.’