See Jacques Louis David in Art History, View His Art and Famous Paintings


"Death of Marat” Jaques Louis David, 1793

Jacques Louis David, 1748-1825, (a Classicist), another of France’s famous artists in art history, won the Prix de Rome with one of his famous paintings "Antiochus and Stratonice", painted in 1774. The subject matter is Prince Antiochus on his deathbed, being diagnosed by the good doctor Erasistratus. He is the one pointing to Stratonice, the wife of Erasistratus' father. Antiochus is told he is dying of lovesickness.

It is thought that David painted this art to satisfy leading academicians of his time and therefore is more complicated than the story need be. Jacques Louis David showed he had the ability to paint a muscular nude. He painted flowing drapery, a chiaroscuro figure with his head almost silhouetted reaching into bright light, architecture in the background showing he had mastered three-dimensional perspective and a bit of grandeur about it all.

Jacques Louis David painted probably one of his most famous paintings in art history"The Oath of the Horatii" in 1784, a art composition in its simplest form. Title: Everything superfluous to the story has been rejected in contrast to "Antiocus and Stratonice". The composition is divided into groups of three, three arches, three brothers, three swords, and a figure group of three people in the background. The figures on the far right are in a triangle format grouping.

The beginning of Jacques Louis David's new style of art painting is a service to a moral and social ideals opposed to self-indulgence. Masculine forces replace the feminine art style of the Rococo period. In the "Oath of the Horatii", three young soldiers vow to their father to fight three brother soldiers from Alba for control of the two cities returning victorious, winners take all. The battle is to be fought in front of both armies.

There are some complications. One of the women is the wife of one of the Roman brothers who is also the sister of an Alban brother who is going to fight against her husband. The youngest of the women is a sister of one of the Romans and a fiancée of one of the Albans.
The "Oath" was about contemporary events in history and the degeneracy of the ruling class. Jacques Louis David painted "The Death of Socrates",1787, and " Lictors Bringing Back to Brutus the Bodies of His Sons",1789 as political allegories, the latter painting exhibited the year of the French Revolution.
"Marat" painted in 1793, is probably David's greatest painting. Marat, a close friend of Jacques Louis David was a leader in the Reign of Terror. Charlotte murdered Marat Corday. She took advantage of Marat’s eczemaed affliction and confinement to a sheeted, medicinal bathtub. The tub was equipped with a writing desk that incapacitated Marat to fight against the death blows of Charlotte's dagger.

The famous artwork is calm, serene and smoothly modulated. David paints the composition idealistically with a tinge of empathetic nobility.

Jacques Louis David painted"The Sabines", in 1799. It is a Neoclassicist art painting, a story about abducted Sabine women, carried off by Romans to be their wives. Title: The fathers of these women marched against the abductors only to be stopped when the Sabine women, now wives of the abductors, threw themselves between the warring factions to stop the impending carnage.

Romulus, Hercelia's Roman husband, is just about to throw a javelin at Tatius who is bracing to defend the blow.

"Madame Recamier", another of Jacques Louis David’s famous paintings in art history painted in 1800 is unfinished artwork in comparison to the smoothing of the surface in David’s other paintings. Title: David painted her dressed in fashionable toilette with bare feet pushing the vogue of classical art style. The result was unacceptable to Madame Recamier. David also insisted that Madam Recamier’s hair be painted a suitable color reflecting the mood of the overall painting. Madame Recamier’s hair was jet black and didn’t reflect the paintings atmosphere. David painted her hair a different color and Madame Recamier rejected the finished painting.

David painted "La Sacre" for Napoleon in 1805, to commemorate his reign. The painting was so large that David needed help from his assistants. The completed artwork measured 204 x 366 feet. Title: Jacques-Louis David did a portrait sketch for each figure, roughed in by his assistants, finally painted by David himself.

In David’s art composition Napoleon is already crowned. He is in process crowning his empress, refusing the usual standard being crowned by the Pope. Napoleon would not be recorded in history at the foot at any man's feet.

An example how Jacques-Louis David could paint away from his classical formula is "Madame Seriziat" 1795. He shows a informal, sensitive pose with delicate details and a bouquet of flowers. Here he shows a special relationship between the artist and his subject.

In another one of Jacques Louis David’s famous paintings in art history "Mars Disarmed by Venus and the Graces", 1824, David softens and paints a more graceful picture. Mars gives his weapons of war to the Graces while a Cupid unfastens his sandals.

Doves sit on Mars' thigh while Venus places a wreath of flowers on his head. Other famous artists painting around the time of David are Francois Gerard and Pierre-Narcisse Guerin.

To view the entire gallery of Jacques Louis David paintings, click here

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