Lazare Hoche was one of the great figures of the French Revolution. Entrusted with the task of pacifying western France, which was threatened by the Chouan revolt, in 1795 Hoche succeeded in preventing the landing of an emigrant army fleet in the Quiberon peninsula.

The idea of erecting a monument to Hoche arose in 1895, in order to offset the construction of a chapel to commemorate the landing of the emigrant army. The commission was given to Jules Dalou in 1900. Dalou was then at the height of his fame: the monumental Triumph of the Republic had just been inaugurated in bronze in the place de la Nation in Paris, after almost twenty years of work. Although already occupied with the creation of a number of public monuments (Monument to Alphand, Monument to Gambetta) Dalou accepted this new commission because he considered Hoche to be a founding figure of the Republic. “I want to make a Lazare Hoche which is beautiful like the God of Freedom,” he declared, “I will not make a killer of men with a stern gaze and threatening hand, but a victor resting dreamily on his sabre and as if saddened by the necessity of his bloody triumph”.

However, Dalou did not have time to finish the monument before his death on 15 April 1902, and it was his assistant, sculptor Camille Lefèvre, who completed it. The monument was finally inaugurated on 20 July 1902 in Quiberon, where it still stands today although now located in the Varquès gardens.

The Petit Palais is in possession of two preparatory studies for the Hoche monument: a plaster model of the monument and a plaster proof of the figure of Hoche. The donation of a copy in bronze of the statue – a very high quality Hébrard cast – provided the Petit Palais with a copy of a work of which the museum possesses the original plaster. This donation was a welcome addition to the Petit Palais collection, which includes few copies since the studio contents acquired in 1905 was largely composed of clay and plaster models and studies.

C. C.-V.

City of Paris municipal collection's website

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