Jacques-Louis David – Biography of Jacques-Louis David


The famous French painter named Jacques-Louis David was born on August 30, 1748. This artist was born into a prosperous family in Paris, and at the age of nine, suffers the bad news that his father would have been murdered, for such an upset his mother leaves him under the care of his uncles. These guys are the ones who raise him well, and they make sure Jacques gets a good education at the Collège des Quatre-Nations.
Seeing that by covering his books with drawings his uncles were not angry, he decided to express to themselves his desire to be a painter, against the desire of his mother and his uncles, which consisted of him being an architect.
Soon after, already convinced, he began to frequent the workshop of François Boucher, the greatest figure of the time. After a while, by decision of the teacher, he began to take classes with a period painter, and there he also attended the Academy of painting and sculpture, located in what is now the Louvre. There David tries to win the Prix de Rome, the French Academy’s art prize four times, and in one of the attempts he loses because he had not consulted Vien, one of the judges who awarded the prize.
Later he travels to Italy, and it is there where with a higher position provided by the Academy, he has been able to access the masterpieces and ruins of ancient Rome, and in this experience he has filled his notebooks with numerous material that he has used during the rest of his life.
While he has remained in Rome, he has studied the great masters, and in 1779 he visits the ruins of Pompeii, of which he is impressed; and it is from this experience that the artist decides to revolutionize the world of painting by applying the eternal principles of classicism.
In this important cycle of his life, David creates his first works, among which are: “The Oath of the Horatii”, “The Sabine Women”, a painting related to the Roman legend of the abduction of the Sabine Women, “The Coronation of Napoleon Bonaparte “and” The death of Marat “.
David has rapidly developed his own neoclassical line, drawing his themes from ancient sources and drawing on the forms and gestures of Roman sculpture. His famous “Oath of the Horatii”, a work painted in 1784 has been conceived to proclaim the emergence of neoclassicism, and it highlights the drama in the use of light, idealized forms and gestural clarity.
Entering another stage, in the year 1789, the artist adopts another style, which is more realistic than neoclassical in order to record the scenes of his time related to the French Revolution, as he has shown in his work of great drama entitled “La death of Marat “in 1793.
Then with time, the experience and the recognition and popularity of the people, he has become for a period the official painter of Napoleon I Bonaparte, he has recorded the chronicles of his reign in large-format works, such as “Coronation of Napoleon and Josefina “in 1805. And then, in the fall of Napoleon, David went into exile in Brussels, where he would remain until his death.
In his last years he has returned to themes inspired by Greek and Roman mythology, which he has painted using a greater theatricality, he has also been a prolific portraitist. This is how his portraits are characterized by being of smaller dimensions and a more collected humanity, like that of “Madame Récamier” of 1800. This is how many modern critics have considered his portraits as his best works.
His trajectory has marked a step through different styles, it has begun with his transition from the rococo of the 18th century to the realism of the 19th century; his neoclassicism has been cold and calculated with a strong influence on his disciples Antoine-Jean Gros and Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, and his heroic and patriotic themes paved the way for romanticism.
The French artist died on December 29, 1825 in Brussels, being remembered as the founder of French Neoclassicism.