34 Masterpieces in Painting by Jacques Louis David

Painting Jacques Louis David, Mars Being Disarmed by Venus and the Three Graces.

Jacques Louis David (1748-1825) was a French painter of the Neoclassical style, one of the most important artists of the period.

Facial Tumor Doesn’t Make Him a Good Student

The artist was born from a very rich family in Paris, and although he received an excellent education at the College des Quatre-Nations, he never was a good student, given the fact he also had a facial tumor that impeded him to speak properly.

The artist was young when he went to learn from Francois Boucher, an influential Rococo (18th-century artistic movement) painter of the time and distant relative. Later, David was sent to Boucher’s friend Joseph-Marie Vien, another great master. In this period David attended the Royal Academy in Paris.

Prestigious Scholarship Brings Him to Rome

In 1774, David won the Prix de Rome — a prestigious art scholarship to the French Academy in Rome, and the artist travelled to Italy with his master Joseph-Marie Vien in 1775. While in Italy, David observed the Italian masterpieces, the ancient city of Rome, and studied the great masters.

Returning to Paris Provides Fame and Marriage

After 5 years spent in Rome, David returned to Paris. The artist was made a member of the Royal Academy, and praised by his famous contemporary painters. In this period of time, the artist married Marguerite Charlotte.

Returning to Rome With Wife and Pupils

David had his own pupils now — about 40-50 students — and was commissioned by the government to paint “Horace defended by his Father”. The artist decided, however, that: “Only in Rome can I paint Romans.” David headed to Rome for a second time, but now accompanied by his wife and some of his students.

David, Surprisingly, Supporting the French Revolution

During the French revolution, the artist helped destroy the old order. This came quite as a surprise, for there were certainly many more opportunities for him under the King than the new order. However, many think that David’s love for the classical made him embrace everything about that period. After a long time involved with politics, and some time also spent in jail, David eventually retreated to his studio, took pupils with him, and retired from politics.

The Relationship With Napoleon, the Exile, and the Death

David had been an admirer of Napoleon for a long time, and, likewise, Napoleon had high respect for David. Napoleon himself asked David to go with him to Egypt in 1798. The artist refused, but sent one of his students instead. After the proclamation of the Empire in 1804, David became the official court painter of the regime.

When the Bourbons returned to power, David was given again the choice to be the court painter. The artist refused, preferring a self-exile life in Brussels. In Brussels, David trained and influenced Brussels’ artists, and lived quietly with his wife. His last, great work, “Mars Disarmed by Venus and the Three Graces” — presented in the introductory image in this article — begin in 1822 and was completed the year before his death. Jacques Louis David died on Dec. 29, 1825.

Painting by Jacques Louis David.

“Paris and Helen”

Painting by Jacques Louis David.

“Napoleon at the Saint-Bernard Pass”

Painting by Jacques Louis David.

“Portrait of Madame Seriziat”

Painting by Jacques Louis David.

“Equestrian portrait of Stanisław Kostka Potocki”

Painting by Jacques Louis David.

“The Farewell of Telemachus and Eucharis”

Painting by Jacques Louis David.

“Cupid and Psyche”

Painting by Jacques Louis David.

“Venitienne A Sa Toilette”

Painting by Jacques Louis David.

“Male Nude Known As Patroclus”

Painting by Jacques Louis David.

“Portrait of Amelia van Buren”

Painting by Jacques Louis David.

“Marguerite-Charlotte David”

Painting by Jacques Louis David.

“Étienne-Maurice Gérard”

Painting by Jacques Louis David.

“The Death of Marat”

Painting by Jacques Louis David.

“Belisarius”

Painting by Jacques Louis David.

“Portrait of Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier and his wife”

Painting by Jacques Louis David.

“The Death of Socrates”

Painting by Jacques Louis David.

“The Lictors Bring to Brutus the Bodies of His Sons”

Painting by Jacques Louis David.

“The Comtesse Vilain XIIII and Her Daughter”

Painting by Jacques Louis David.

“Portrait of Anne-Marie-Louise Thélusson, Comtesse de Sorcy”

Painting by Jacques Louis David.

“The Anger of Achilles”

Painting by Jacques Louis David.

“Napoleon in His Study”

Painting by Jacques Louis David.

“The Sisters Zénaïde and Charlotte Bonaparte”

Painting by Jacques Louis David.

“Portrait of Pope Pius VII”

Painting by Jacques Louis David.

“Andromache Mourning Hector”

Painting by Jacques Louis David.

“Oath of the Horatii”

Painting by Jacques Louis David.

“Madame Récamier”

Painting by Jacques Louis David.

“Monsieur Seriziat”

Painting by Jacques Louis David.

“Diana and Apollo Piercing Niobe’s Children with their Arrows”

Painting by Jacques Louis David.

“Portrait of Madame de Verninac”

Painting by Jacques Louis David.

“Portrait of Alphonse Leroy”

Painting by Jacques Louis David.

“Portrait of Geneviève Jacqueline Pecoul”

Painting by Jacques Louis David.

“Sappho and Phaon”

Painting by Jacques Louis David.

“The Intervention of the Sabine Women”

Painting by Jacques Louis David.

“Self portrait of Jacques-Louis David”

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4 comments
Giulia Muscatello
Giulia Muscatello moderator

Hi Davide, here I am. I found out many new things about David while reading this article. David was really a kind person, though also stubborn, and he was a really good artist. My favorite masterpiece out of the 34 you posted is The Anger of Achilles. I found him very patriotic whilst reading, also because he supported the French Revolution. 

Davide Di Prossimo
Davide Di Prossimo moderator

@Giulia Muscatello Hi Giulia, glad to see you again! So did I … I found out a lot of things I didn’t know about David while researching about him. Even if he did go to a very good school but never learnt anything, because of him facial tumor, he turned to be a very good artist. "The Anger of Achilles" is a very beautiful painting, but my favorite one is "Mars Disarmed by Venus and the Three Graces." 

Giulia Muscatello
Giulia Muscatello moderator

@Davide Di Prossimo All of his paintings are very beautiful and artistic:) Yes, you're right, he did turn out as a great artist. He was very strong, since he continued going on and painting, bringing along his tumor. Gotta go, can't wait for the next article. Bye!!!!!