- David, Jacques-Louis
- (1748-1825)painterKnown for introducing the neoclassical style in France, as well as being its leading proponent, Jacques-Louis David was born in Paris and studied at the Académie Royale under the rococo painter J. M. Vien. He won the Prix de Rome (1774) and, during a visit to Italy, was strongly influenced by the classical work of nicolas poussin. David soon developed his own style of neoclassicalism, inspired also by themes from ancient sources and using the gestures and forms of Roman sculpture. Returning to Paris, he produced a number of portraits on this motif—Belisarius (1780), Andromache Mourning Hector (1782)—and achieved a full statement of this new neoclassical style with The Oath of the Horatii (1784). In it his characteristic uses of ideal forms, gesture, clarity, and dramatic lighting are emphasized. With its highly moralistic and patriotic theme, this work became the principal mode for such paintings for the next two decades. He would return to this style in the allegorical Rape of the Sabines(1799), which he considered his greatest work. For some years after 1789, however, David, an ardent revolutionary, adapted a more realistic tone to record the contemporary scenes of the revolution of 1789, as seen in his Death ofMarat (1795). From 1799 to 1815, he was the official painter for napoléon i, whose reign he chronicled in such works as the huge Consecration of Napoléon I (1805-07, louvre) and The Distribution of the Eagles (1810). Also throughout his career, David was a prolific portraitist. His portraits such as Mme Récamier (1800, Louvre) and Pius VII (1805) show great understanding of character as well as technical mastery. With his career bridging the transition from 18th-century rococo to 19th-century realism, David would strongly influence such pupils as antoine, baron gros and jean-auguste ingres. His heroic and patriotic themes also paved the way for the romantics. Exiled during the restoration, David died in Brussels.
France. A reference guide from Renaissance to the Present . 1884.