A Good Deed is Never Forgotten


Pierre Nicolas Legrand ( French, 1758 - 1829 )

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General Description

This richly detailed painting thrusts us into the tumultuous history of the French Revolution and its aftermath. The two men shown greeting each other at the center of the painting are Joseph Cange, a prison guard, and Monsieur George, an aristocrat who was imprisoned during the Terror, the most radical phase of the Revolution that took place between 1793 and 1794. During his imprisonment, Monsieur George's family received financial assistance from the charitable Cange. Monsieur George, freed from prison and reunited with his family, learns of the generosity of his former guard, and returns to the prison with his wife and servant to thank Cange.

Purportedly based on a true story, this painting is fascinating evidence of the mood of political and class reconciliation that characterized the period immediately following the fall of Robespierre and the end of the Terror. Tales of Cange's generosity made him a national hero in 1794 and 1795, and his virtue was celebrated in plays and verse.

Excerpt from

Heather MacDonald, DMA label copy, 2009.

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