David, Jacques-Louis (1748-1825) by Scholes, Robert

Jacques-Louis David (1748 – 1825) From a useful Danish website on David http://cgfa.sunsite.dk/jdavid/jdavid_bio.htm When David was 16 he began studying art at the Académie Royale under the rococo painter J. M. Vien. After many unsuccessful attempts, he finally won the Prix de Rome in 1774, and on the ensuing trip to Italy he was strongly influenced by classical art and by the classically inspired work of the 17th-century painter Nicolas Poussin. David quickly evolved his own individual neoclassical style, drawing subject matter from ancient sources and basing form and gesture on Roman sculpture. His famous “Oath of the Horatii” was consciously intended as a proclamation of the new neoclassical style in which dramatic lighting, ideal forms, and gestural clarity are emphasized. Presenting a lofty moralistic (and by implication patriotic) theme, the work became the principal model for noble and heroic historical painting of the next two decades. It also launched his popularity and awarded him the right to take on his own students. After 1789, David adopted a realistic rather than neoclassical painting style in order to record scenes of the French Revolution (1789-1799). David was very active in the Revolution, being elected a deputy to the National Convention on September 17, 1792. He took his place with the extremists known as the Montagnards–along with Marat, Danton, and Robespierre. An important teacher as well, he counted among his pupils. There is a lot of information about him and many images of his work on the Web. Ingres

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