David Jacques Louis
David, Jacques Louis (1748-1825), a painter of the modern French school, of which he may almost be called the founder, since he introduced the close study of nature to take the place of the conventionalism till then existing. He was born at Paris, where he studied, and having gained the Grand Prix, went to Rome from 1775 to 1780. His great forte was historical painting, and in 1784 he finished at Rome his noted Oath of the Horatii, a work which had been commissioned by Louis XVI. In the same year he produced his Belisarius, in 1787 The Death of Socrates, and in 1788 Paris and Helen. He also made some reputation as a portrait painter. Having entered fully into the principles of the Revolution, he painted in 1789 Brutus condemning his Sons. He became a deputy to the National Convention in 1792, and was a staunch adherent of Robespierre. He voted for the death of his old patron, Louis XVI., and in 1794 he presided over the Convention. In 1799 he painted the Rape of the Sabine Women. Appointed first painter by Napoleon in 1804, he painted the Coronation and Napoleon crossing the Alps, and in 1814 he painted his Leonidas. After the return from Elba he was made a Commander of the Legion of Honour. At the fall of Napoleon David was banished, and went to Brussels, where he painted Cupid leaving the Arms of Psyche; and his last work, in 1824, was Venus, Cupid, and the Graces disarming Mars. Many of his pictures are in the Louvre. He excelled as a colourist, and his drawing was correct. Moreau engraved many of his works.