Gérard, François

BORN 4 May 1770, Roma, Lazio - DIED 11 Jan 1837, Paris
BIRTH NAME Gérard, François Pascal Simon, baron
GRAVE LOCATION Paris: Cimetière du Montparnasse, 3 Boulevard Edgar Quinet (division 01)

François Gérard was born in Rome, where his father Jean Simon Gérard worked as intendant for Cardinal François-Joachim de Pierre de Bernis. In 1782 the family returned to Paris. From 1786 he studied with Jacques Louis David in Paris and became his favourite student. In 1789 he competed for the Prix de Rome but he came second to his fellow pupil Anne-Louis Girodet. In 1790 his father died and he accompanied his mother to Rome where she wanted to live. But the family soon returned to France to avoid being placed on a list of emigrated families. To avoid military service David helped him to obtain a membership of the revolutional tribunal. But Gérard often claimed to be ill and 3was always absent when it came to sentencing the enemies of the revolution to death.

By 1795 he was almost as famous as David as a portrait painter. After his "Amor and Psyche" was severily criticized he decided to concentrate on portraits and history scenes. He oftend painted famous people, like Napoleon's mother in 1799 and Joséphine de Beauharnais in 1802, before she was crowned empress.

In 1809 he became a Baron of the Empire and in 1811 he was appointed professor at the École des beaux-arts de Paris. He held this post until his death. In later years he fell out with David as well as Gros. The latter wasn't too happy when Gérard quickly turned to the Bourbons after their restoration and in 1817 Louis XVIII appointed him (and not Gros) Court Painter. In 1819 he was knighted by the king and he had a large studio with many assistents. The large portraits that he painted in those years are now regarded as superficial and glossy. Gérard died in Paris and was buried at the Montparnasse cemetery in that city.

Related persons
• painted Beauharnais, Hortense de
• painted Beauharnais, Joséphine de
• painted Bonaparte, Carolina
• painted Borghese, Camillo, 6th Prince of Sulmona
• was pupil of David, Jacques-Louis
• painted Denuelle, Eléonore
• knew Girodet de Roussy-Trioson, Anne Louis
• quarreled with Gros, Antoine-Jean
• visited Helvétius, Anne-Catherine
• painted Isabey, Jean Baptiste
• painted Marie Louise, Empress of France, Duchess of Parma
• painted Murat, Joachim, king of Naples
• painted Napoleon I Bonaparte
• painted Napoleon II, Duke of Reichstadt
• painted Récamier, Juliette
• painted Walewska, Maria


The grave of François Gérard at Montparnasse Cimetière, Paris.
Picture by Androom (22 May 1999)


"Portrait de la reine Hortense".
(Rueil-Malmaison, musée national des châteaux de Bois Préau et de Malmaison )

"portrait of Joséphine de Beauharnais".
   (1801, St. Petersburg: Hermitage)

• Murray, Peter & Linda Murray, The Penguin Dictionary of Arts & Artists, Fourth Edition, Penguin Books, Harmondsworth, 1981
François Gérard - Wikipedia

Gérard, Rosemonde

Published: 01 Jan 2006
Last update: 18 Jun 2023