Jacques-Louis David


Jacques-Louis David was born in 1748 in Paris. His father was killed and his mother left him at a young age, but he received excellent education. But during class he would always draw, and decided he wanted to become a painter and went to learn from Francois Boucher, a famous painter of the time. His mentor Francois Boucher was a Rococo painter, but Rococo was becoming less popular to a more classical style. Boucher recognised this and sent David to another painter who embraced the classical form. David studied at painting school, before going to Italy and observed the Italian masterpieces of ancient Rome and the paintings in Pompeii. After, he dedicated the rest of his life to revolutionizing the art world in the concepts of classicism. Later he became supporter of the French Revolution. He developed a huge number of pupils, which deems him to be the most influential French painter in the early 19th century.


Jacques-Louis David was a painter in the Neoclassical style. The Neoclassical style is after the Baroque and Rococo movements, and is based off of simplicity and symmetry. Neoclassicism, as the name suggests draws inspiration from the classical art of Ancient Rome or Greece. The Age of Enlightenment, which coincided with the Neoclassical times, had great influence on the art. The writings of Johann Joachim Winckelmann also had great influence on the Neoclassical style, praising the idealism of Greek art. The idea that the only way to be great is to imitate the greats of the past. Pupils and students of David went on to be highly respected by French society and honor the Neoclassical style.

David was a supporter of the French Revolution and friend of Robespierre. David's support was best shown through his art works. He sketched the Tennis Court Oath, which was one of the first definite signs of revolution and revolt. David became involved and politics and joined the Jacobins. David showed his support of the revolution through his art.

David painted many works of Napoleon Bonaparte. That had great mutual respect for each other, in reaction to one of David's painting of Napoleon, Napoleon said, "David, I salute you". David was struck by Napoleon's classical features, and became the official court painter.

Art Works

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Oath of the Horatii (1784)

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Sketch of the Tennis Court Oath (1792)

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The Death of Marat (1793)

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Napoleon at the Saint-Bernard Pass