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Lime wood plaque by Aubert Parent: the sarcophagus of Louis XVI
Exceptional carved linden wood plaque by Aubert Parent (1753-1835) memorializing the execution of Louis XVI. The oval plaque depicts the sarcophagus of Louis XVI, which is delicately incised with fleurs-de-lis, and is carved at the end with two L’s and laurel branches beneath a crown; it is inscribed “MORS IMMORTALITAS” ( DEATH IMMORTALITY) and bears a portrait medallion of Louis XVI in profile inscribed in Latin “LUD[OVICUS] XVI OCCIDIT 21 J 1793” ( Louis XVI felled 21 J[une] 1793). The sarcophagus rests under stems of spent and blooming Bourbon lilies and roses (probably representing Marie-Antoinette). A butterfly, symbolizing the immortal soul freed from its earthly ties, rises out of its cocoon atop the lily stem. Nestled between the sarcophagus and the plinth, a grieving Lamb of God rests over the crowned conjoined arms of Charles Eugene, Prince of Württemberg-Stuttgart and his widow Franciska to whom the relief is dedicated. The plinth is incised “A. PARENT INV. SCUL. 1795” with the word:  “Tigurina” ,the Latin name of Zurich minutely incised below.
On the back is a manuscript poem by the Swiss poet Johan Kaspar Lavater (1741-1801) dedicated to Franciska von Württemberg (titled “auf ludwigs, des ermerdeten, Sarg - veri Aubert Parent. (Upon the coffin of the murdered Louis by Aubert Parent.) Parent visited Lavater in Zurich in 1795.
The possibly original gilded frame is inscribed in gilded letters on a black oval surrounding the relief: “DÉDIÉ À SON AL’ SE: MADAME LA DUCHESSE DOUAIRIERE DU PR’.CH: EUG’ DE WURTEMBERG STUTTGART” (Dedicated to Her Hi[ghne]ss: Madame the Dowager Duchess of the Pr[ince] .Ch:[arles] Eug’[ene] of Wurtemberg (sic) Stuttgart).
Parent had left Paris and found refuge in Switzerland and Germany; he lived in exile until 1813.
The piece is described and illustrated in The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal , Volume 13/1985: Pages 65-66. Figure 8.

Height (sight) - 7½" (19cm)                Length - 9¾" (25.75cm)
Height (frame) - 11¾" (30cm)             Length - 14" (35.6cm)

Height (ins.): 11¾ (30 cm.)      Length/Width (ins.): 14 (35.6 cm.)     
Origin: Germany, late 18thcentury     Period: Neo-Classical



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