François Rude commemorated a crucial moment in modern history through the powerful language of classical allegory. The Departure of the Volunteers of 1792 honors France’s first citizen army, formed in response to a threatened invasion by a Prussian/Austrian coalition intent on restoring the deposed Bourbon monarchy. Dressed in classical armor and carrying ancient weapons, men ranging from youth to old age rally under the command of a fierce, female warrior. Born up by wings and wearing a Phrygian cap (worn by freed slaves in Roman times), she represents the victorious spirit of Liberty, conceived as the embodiment of France during the Revolution of 1789. This highly finished plaster relief—one of a few of Rude’s models to survive—so closely resembles the final version sculpted on a colossal scale for the Arc de Triomphe on the Champs-Elysées in Paris that it may have served as a guide for the stone carvers.
From Bulletin of the Detroit Institute of Arts 89 (2015)
Artist François Rude, French, 1784-1855
  • Departure of the Volunteers of 1792 (The Marseillaise)
Date ca. 1835
Medium original plaster model
Dimensions Unframed: 42 × 24 1/2 × 7 inches (106.7 × 62.2 × 17.8 cm)
Framed: 51 1/2 × 36 1/2 × 7 inches (130.8 × 92.7 × 17.8 cm)
Including base (depth including bracket mount): 10 1/2 inches (26.7 cm)
Credit Line Founders Society Purchase, Robert H. Tannahill Fund
Accession Number 2001.67
Department European Sculpture and Dec Arts
On View Era of Revolution S331.1, Level 3 (see map)
2001-present, purchase by the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)
Darr, A. P. "Two newly acquired sculptures by Rude and Rodin in the Detroit Institute of Arts." In La Sculpture en Occident: Etudes offertes à Jean-René Gaborit, ed. G. Bresc-Bautier et al. Paris, 2007, pp. 272-83.

Darr, A. P. and B. Gallagher. "Recent acquisitions (2000-2006) of European sculpture and decorative arts at The Detroit Institute of Arts." The Burlington Magazine 149 (June 2007): 453, pl. XIII (ill.).

Bulletin of the DIA 89, no. 1/4 (2015): 14-15 (ill.).