- David, Jacques Louis
- (1748–1825)One of the greatest of the French neoclassicist painters. Among his most famous works, the Oath of the Horatii, completed in 1784, idealized the classical virtues of stoicism and masculine patriotism and established a severe yet seductive aesthetic David applied to his support for the French Revolution, most effectively in his Death of Marat painted in 1793. A supporter of Maximilien Robespierre, who voted for the execution of Louis XVI, David was imprisoned by the Directory but saved by the intervention of his estranged wife. Less a committed revolutionary than an avid propagandist for the heroes of his age, David promptly transferred his loyalty to Napoleon Bonaparte after 1799 and produced, in works such as Napoleon Crossing the Saint Bernard and the Sacre de Joséphine, the opulent and romantic image for which the first military genius and tyrant of modern times is remembered. It is, indeed, no exaggeration to say that the subsequent idealized legacy of Bonapartism to French politics was in part the work of David’s brush.FURTHER READING:Brookner, Anita. Romanticism and Its Discontents. New York: Viking, 2000;Honour, Hugh. Neo-Classicism. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1975.CARL CAVANAGH HODGE
Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.