Jacques Louis David Essay

2128 Words9 Pages
David was the virtual art dictator of France for a generation. Extending beyond painting, his influence determined the course of fashion, furniture design, and interior decoration and was reflected in the development of moral philosophy. His art was a sudden and decisive break with tradition, and from this break "modern art" is dated. David studied with Vien, and after winning the Prix de Rome (which had been refused him four times, causing him to attempt suicide by starvation) he accompanied Vien to Italy in 1775. His pursuit of the antique, nurtured by his time in Rome, directed the classical revival in French art. He borrowed classical forms and motifs, predominantly from sculpture, to illustrate a sense of virtue he mistakenly…show more content…
During the Restoration David spent his last years in Brussels. As a portraitist he was at his most distinguished, although he belittled this painting genre. Using living, rather than sculptured models, he allowed his spontaneous sentiment to be revealed. In these last years his portraits, such as Antoine Mongez and His Wife Angelica (1812; Lille) and Bernard (1820; Louvre) are enormously vital and in them the seeds of the new romanticism are clearly discernible. Jacques-Louis David was born into a prosperous middle-class family in Paris on August 30, 1748. In 1757 his mother left him to be raised by his uncles after his father was killed. He was never a good student in school- in his own words, "I was always hiding behind the instructors chair, drawing for the duration of the class". 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
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