David, Jacques-Louis

BORN 30 Aug 1748, Paris: Quai de la Mégisserie - DIED 29 Dec 1825, Brussel: rue Leopold
GRAVE LOCATION Bruxelles, Bruxelles-Capitale: Cimetière de Bruxelles, Avenue du Cimetière de Bruxelles 159, Evere (Pelouse 07, Rond-point des Bourgmestres)

Jacques-Louis David was the son of a prosperous merchant. He was educated at the Collège des Quatre-Nations of the University of Paris. His family wanted him to become an architect but he wanted to be a painter and went to François Boucher, who sent him to Joseph-Marie Vien. After several failed attempts he won the Prix de Rome in 1774 and with Vien he travelled to Rome in 1775. In 1780 he returned to Paris, where he became famous for his portraits. He was elected a member of the l'Académie royale de Peinture et de Sculpture. In 1787 he exhibited "La Mort de Socrate" at the Salon.

He was a supporter of the French Revolution, a friend of Robespierre and a member of the Club des Jacobins. In 1792 he was elected into the National Convention and he voted for the execution of Louis XVI. This resulted in his wife leaving and divorcing him in 1794. He was a member of the Art Commission and nicknamed 'the Robespierre of the brush'. In 1793 he made the famous sketch of Marie Antoinette on her way to the scaffold (now at The Louvre in Paris). In that same year his friend Marat was killed by Charlotte Corday and "La Mort de Marat" (1793) is probably his most famous painting. When Robespierre was executed he narrowly escaped the same faith but he was imprisoned in 1794 and again in 1795. But he was allowed to paint during his imprisonments and his wife returned to him and they remarried.

He was impressed by Napoleon and in 1797 he sketched him. In 1799 he returned to public notice with his giant canvas "The Intervention of the Sabine Women". Napoleon liked it and in the same year he commissioned him to paint his crossing of the Alps. In 1804 he witnessed Napoleon's coronation and he became Royal Painter to the emperor. After Napoleon's fall Louis XVIII granted him amnesty and offered him the position of court painter, but David preferred to leave France and he lived in Brussels afterwards. There he finished his last important work "Mars Being Disarmed by Venus" in 1824.

In 1825 he was struck by a carriage after leaving a theatre and he died on 29 December 1825. A burial in France wasn't allowed because he had voted for the death of Louis XVI and he was buried at the Saint-Josse-ten-Noode cemetery in Brussels. His remains were moved to the Cimetière de Bruxelles in 1882. It has been stated that his heart was buried with his wife in Père Lachaise but this remains unclear.

• Wife: David, Charlotte (1782-1825)

Related persons
• used as a model Aubry, Thérèse
• was teacher of Bonaparte, Charlotte Napoléon
• was a friend of Denon, Vivant
• was teacher of Fragonard, Alexandre-Évariste
• was teacher of Gérard, François
• was teacher of Girodet de Roussy-Trioson, Anne Louis
• was teacher of Gros, Antoine-Jean
• was teacher of Ingres, Jean Auguste Dominique
• was teacher of Isabey, Jean Baptiste
• was teacher of Klinkowström, Friedrich August von
• drew Marie Antoinette, queen of France
• worked for Napoleon I Bonaparte
• was teacher of Paulze, Marie-Anne Pierrette
• painted Paulze, Marie-Anne Pierrette
• painted Récamier, Juliette
• was painted by Schmeller, Johann Joseph
• was teacher of Wächter, Eberhard von

4/1/1808David presents to Napoleon the final version of his painting of Napoleon's coronation. Napoleon was very pleased with the result. [Napoleon I Bonaparte]


The grave of Jacques-Louis David at Père Lachaise, Paris. His heart is buried here and his body was buried in Brussels.
Picture by Androom (19 Nov 2006)


The grave of Jacques-Louis David at the Evere Cemetery, Brussels. His heart was interred separately at Père Lachaise, Paris.
Picture by Androom (24 Jul 1999)


"La Mort de Socrate" ("Death of Socrates").
(New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art)

"Comtesse Daru".
   (1810, New York: Frick Collection)

• Le Clère, Marcel, Cimetières & Sepultures de Paris, Hachette, Paris, 1978
Schilderkunst van A tot Z, REBO, Lisse, 1990
napoleon.org - Le site d'histoire de la Fondation Napoléon
Jacques-Louis David - Wikipedia

Davies, Scrope Berdmore

Published: 01 Jan 2006
Last update: 24 May 2022