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Trained as an academic painter with a specialization in religious subjects, Charles Timbal was an art critic and prodigious collector of Renaissance painting and sculpture. In 1872, his sale to Gustave Dreyfus of 155 early Renaissance sculptures, small bronzes, reliefs, and paintings represented 20 years of collecting. Although this purchase contained only 24 bronze reliefs and a dozen medals, it became the foundation on which Dreyfus built the finest collections of medals and plaquettes in the world.