Jacques Louis David
Jacques Louis David – representative of the petty bourgeoisie, close to the people, with whom he remained socially and morally solidary. He became an artist of the French Revolution, and then an official painter of Napoleon’s court.
A hand hanging from the bath, weakening fingers, still holding the pen, pierced the chest, – Marat just let out a last sigh.
On the next page the original of the painting is presented, which is now in Brussels; at the top – one of two copies, stored in Versailles.
The most obvious difference between them is the absence in the latter case of the artist’s signature on the box, which we see in the foreground.
Jean Paul Marat (1743-1793), a native of the petty bourgeoisie, a physician in the personal guard of the King’s brother, Count d’Artois, with the approach of the Revolution took an openly anti-monarchical and revolutionary position, which would then be expressed in the policy of the Jacobin party.
FRIGIOUS CAPPACKS AND SANCULOS
The picture shows the crowd greeting Marat. The same attire – the Phrygian cap and long pants – makes visible the unity of the intellectual with the masses of the people.
A man of violent temperament, inclined to extremes, Marat, deciding to put his talent to the service of the Revolution, knows no limits even in this very ministry.
David depicts Marat killed at the time of his “battle”: the intellectual continued to “fight” with a pen, even when he was taking care of his body.
which, together with the newspaper Father Dyushen Ebera will lead the Revolution and will have a huge impact on the masses.
Marat is elected to the Convention and is his most extreme wing. He votes for the death of Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette, attacks from even more radical positions the Girondist party – the Republican Party that expressed the interests of the bourgeoisie – and seeks its fall. Tired of the hardships of politics, he resigns himself as a deputy and resigns, acquiring in the eyes of the people the role of the iron censor of revolutionary politics and the guarantor of republican institutions.
HEAD OF DEAD MARATH
(1793. Versailles, National Museum) David makes a drawing at the deathbed of Marat. He again achieves the impression of significance, but also of the pietism of the religious icon, intended for popular worship: it is the head of the suffering Christ or the beheaded John the Baptist.
MARIA ANTUNETT AT THE WAY TO EXPAHOT
(1792. Paris, Louvre, Study of Drawings)
Usually David did not portray street life: a fleeting moment is alien to the scale of his painting.
But he is a witness of an outstanding historical event: he sees Marie Antoinette, daughter of Maria Theresa of Austria, wife of Louis XVI, who is being taken to the scaffold in a wretched cart.
A simple, generalized line, he depicts a woman in her tragic fate.
A few hours after the death of the revolutionary politician, David comes to his house and draws a portrait with a pen, which he then translates into a composition on canvas. Later, the body of Marat will be installed in the church of the Cordeliers, and he will be honored in a long formal ceremony, which is an example of a secular religious rite.
Embalmed with a naked torso, so that the wound can be seen, and the marat stretched out on the steps of the church will be shown to the people along with the emblematic objects depicted in the picture.
Baudelaire’s words-pay attention to the loftiness of his syllable-call us to read the image as “Balzac’s novel”: “The Divine Marat still weakly holds his last pen, his chest is pierced with a sacrilegious wound; on the green table in front of him, the other hand still clutches the insidious letter.
The naked character of the picture and the poverty of objects give the victim a mystical austerity. Assignation and a leaf with the words “You will give this assignment to the mother of five children whose husband has died defending the homeland” stand out on a cracked box.
The funeral of Marat will take the form of a real liturgical rite.
This will happen on July 16, and the sound of the drums that beat the rhythm of the cortege will mix with the patriotic songs. At five o’clock in the afternoon the body of the Jacobin revolutionary will be burned in the garden of the abolished Cordelier church, and his heart will be placed in a purple urn.
David visited Marat the day before the murder and found him when he was writing while sitting in the tub. Thus, the pose chosen by the artist for his character is quite natural. First of all, he means in the composition the image of the “hero” of the French Revolution, defining the gesture of his right arm and his head tilted to the side, as did Caravaggio in his position in the coffin. Then he adds the attributes of the battling intellectual: a pen, a piece of paper and a box to the right of the bath, fixing the first color spots that reveal the volumes of the figure and objects.
At the second stage of the build process, David deals with the final transfer of volumes and the search for a color solution. The brown color of the tree, green – the draperies and pallor of the body are skillfully matched with the background, which clearly thickens around the head.
The death of Marat – the highest point in the work of David. The public recognition of the character is sanctified by his death, and the event depicted with hypnotic realism gives a religious color to his political ministry. In the period when the Spaniard Francisco Goya (1746 – 1828) tears off the masks from the appearance of people and studies their instincts, David experiences in France events calling him to embody the power and mercy of compassion.
In his painting, David demonstrates a thorough study of lighting.
The light falls to the left to capture the symbolically significant parts of the composition: the face, the reclining hand and the letter in the other, the left hand.
Jacques Louis David was born in Paris in 1748, on the Promenade des Meisserie, located between the Louvre, the National Palace and the Hotel de Ville – the town hall. He came from a family of artisans and merchants. Shortly after the birth of David, his father was killed in a duel, and the mother’s family introduced the boy to a famous relative, Francois Boucher (1703-1770), the first painter of the king.
Quickly becoming one of the most fashionable artists of the French aristocracy, influencing the style of clothing, hairstyles and furniture, David after his trip to Rome is experiencing a creative upsurge. He treats historical plots in forms inspired by the ancient tradition.
During the years of the French Revolution, he was in the forefront of its members. New political and social ideals have found the ideal expression in his classicism.
Possessing a lively temperament, sensitive, prone to pathetics, gifted with the talent of a painter and masterly master of technique, David will be a great example for future generations of French artists. The world of David’s painting with its muffled sound, quiet dreams, poetic wealth is still not fully understood. Its expressiveness is connected with the lessons of the classical measure, perceived as a moral model. In the era of tumultuous changes, his style managed to give order to frenzy, to harmonize in an image full of dignity, passion and death.
Fascinated by the strong personality of Napoleon Bonaparte, who became his hero, David assumes the post of official artist of the emperor and shares his fate in victories and defeat. During the “hundred days” he remains faithful to him and with the establishment of the Restoration is removed into voluntary exile to Brussels. There he dies from the consequences of the banal accident that occurred when he left the theater in 1825.
LIFE AS A SCENARIOUS STATEMENT
Jacques Louis David is one of the most outstanding representatives of painting, which goes back to the technical mastery of the great tradition of the past. Extremely gifted in the development of compositional design, in the selection and distribution of colors, he creates a highly finished painting that seeks to translate into significant historical events.
Particularly striking in his work is attention to detail, to the perfect arrangement of the rays of light, to the careful selection of poses. Everything in the artist’s paintings is the embodiment of mastery of scenography – theatrical art, striving to persuade rhetorically. No one before David so clearly did not understand the propaganda power of painting, no one considered it possible to excite the crowd with images.
“Kings, not being able to usurp in the temples the place of the deity, seized the porticoes of the temples. He realizes how images can become the most suitable tool for spreading ideological beliefs, influence consciousness: at the end of the 18th century, the French people are already emerging from the state of age-old oppression, but have a low level of cultural training, and in order to achieve political consciousness, according to David, it is necessary to resort to refined speeches. The inevitable success of images, on the contrary, is based on the immediacy of their impact.
Jacques Louis David puts forward new principles of iconoclasm against the power of the past, based on the power of suggesting old images. He creates an iconography in which the whole people can recognize themselves as the main hero of history, while the artist uses the figures of mythology and ancient heroes to illustrate and exalt the events of modern times.
In 1757, the father of David Maurice was killed in a duel, and little Jacques Louis was given to the care of the maternal family. His mother, Maria Genevieve Byron, who would have preferred a military career for her son, did not take part in his education. But David showed an interest in drawing very early, and my aunt decided to show it to her relative – Francois Boucher, the renowned painter of the king and the great darling of the marquis Pompadour.
Experienced at this time of creative decline, Boucher reflected and glorified his pompous and mannered painting rocail taste of the French court, he was one of the most sought-after decorators of Paris. His allegorical and mythological scenes were very popular with the aristocracy, and his primacy in the artistic life of that time was indisputable. Despite family relations, Boucher was too high position to take on the burden of training a relative – gifted, but still inept – and refused him. However, the first works of David show an unquestionable interest in the composition of the paintings of Boucher – the master of the anti-classic by vocation.
Among the people who determined the fate of Jacques Louis David in art, the most important was Jacques Francois Demeson.
He was also a famous relative of David. Demezon was admitted to the Academy of Fine Arts in 1762 and in 1769 was awarded the title of royal architect. The patronage of such a powerful person provided the young artist with a prestigious future. He was to go to Rome and follow in the footsteps of David Leroy, a well-known propagandist of classical aesthetics.
David enrolled first in the famous Beauvais College, then at the College of the Four Nations. But tradition represents him as a mediocre pupil,
neglectful attitude towards studies. David feels that there is a great vocation in him that does not correspond to such a carefully programmed academic education.
The coup takes place in 1764, when the young man meets Joseph Marie Vien (1716 – 1809), the teacher of the Academy in Paris. This artist, even a small talent, possessed a good technical training. In his studio, David began to learn anew: he wrote the first mythological pictures, where the gracefulness of rococo gave way to a theatrical high-flown.
Since 1747, in the halls of the Louvre, the Salon opens every two years with great solemnity. This institution is fully controlled by the Academy, promoting through it art, created according to its own established rules. Accordingly, historical painting triumphs here. The historical genre was on top of the hierarchy; it was based on the promotion of technical skill. On the other hand, it was dictated by the requests of the church and the court, which remained the main customers of the paintings. The historical painting was followed by a portrait, a landscape and a still-life.
• The composition of works on a historical, mythological or religious plot requires great skill, but at the same time rests on the imagination: the historical painter must transform events, idealizing them and turning to the present moment. The portrait requires nothing but observance, the interpretation of the landscape depends on the transmission of atmospheric changes, the still life reproduces the material properties of objects; the historical genre, on the contrary, competes with myths, transforming the images of everyday life in painting.
• Young debutant Jacques Louis David in his ambitions strives to reach the top of the hierarchy in art. For this he must study in Rome, breathe in the present atmosphere of antiquity. Win the Roman Prize in order to – according to the King’s orders – get the right to stay at Villa Medici, becomes his main goal. He achieves it after persistent efforts in 1774.
• On October 2, 1775, he traveled to Rome with his teacher Vien, who had just been assigned to the postdirecrector of the Academy branch. During the Roman voyage David filled the drawings with twelve albums.
• All his days he spends, studying and copying the ancient statues, then in the Capitoline Museum, then those that adorn the luxurious aristocratic and papal palaces. Determining in the Roman period was for him also a meeting with the paintings of Raphael, Michelangelo, Guido Reni (1575 – 1642), Domenichino (1581 -1641) and the brothers Carracci. The compositions of Caravaggio impressed David with realism and theatrical effects.
DAY OF RESPECT FOR ANTIQUITY
The Academy’s approval gives Jacques Louis David the right to his own official workshop in the Louvre. He often visits him, he even has an apartment there. For the design of works such an artist, like David, requires great concentration; The Louvre, so rich in historical and artistic monuments, is an ideal place for this. The design of the workshop, which was destined to become an educational institution later, in an ideal place for reflection allowed him to develop his manner to a high level and create a completely new painting.
• The paintings created in the workshop are written on historical and mythological subjects. The most significant series relates to stories borrowed from the Iliad. David gave her energy, drama and severity. He portrayed the heroism of ordinary people, their suffering reflected on faces in which a serious and strained expression predominated. Realizing their cruel fate, Brutus, Andromache, Seneca, Belisarius, Hector represent the glorification of patriotic virtues, these precursors of revolutionary ideals.
• The French Revolution will make from the workshop in the Louvre a kind of home of science, morality and culture. This place, the keeper of collective memory and the highest achievements of art, will completely absorb David’s attention.
• One of the pupils of the famous artist, Delescluze left a detailed description of his workshop: “In this part of the Louvre you can get on two stairs, one on the left, with Rue du Cock, the other – dark and steep, from the church of Saint-Germain-l’Auxerrois. Actually, the studio goes to the colonnade of the north facade of the Louvre, to the Hotel d’Anghivier. It is about forty-five feet long and thirty-wide. The cracked walls are painted in a gray-olive color, and light penetrates from one window opening, which opens onto the large colonnade of the Louvre. On two long side walls hang to the left of the entrance of Horace and Brutus, while on the right there is a picture of a dying naked boy clinging to his heart a tricolor cockade, this young Viala … Curious and the furniture of the workshop, of an unusual character: mahogany covered with pillows of red wool, decorated with black palmettes along the edges, in the likeness of images on the so-called Etruscan vases. ”
Jean Henri Clesse
The most famous canvases by Jacques Louis David are those created in the period of the revolutionary movement of 1789. In the work of the master the glorification of the Revolution inherits the theatricality of the Roman Empire with its secular and monumental iconography. The people of the revolution are embodied in David’s paintings in harsh and wise figures; the artist praises their nobility, honesty and heroism.
The tombs of the kings in the church of Saint-Denis were dug from the earth, and almost three days later the crowd destroyed more than fifty royal monuments.
Like the guillotine, the hands of the dark people were torn down by sacristies, altars, chapels.
The abolition of the former oppressors is seen as an act of justice, but it is much more important to exterminate what they created and than owned. While the revolutionary fervor mercilessly destroys the symbols of the power of the aristocracy, and the palaces and castles are deprived of the situation, they go under the hammer, and every royal image, emblem or crest is destroyed, David reaches the heights of his pictorial creativity. He does not destroy, he creates.
During this period, the artist writes many portraits of the main characters, embodying the free and strong spirit of the first period of the Revolution. He himself is in the forefront, next to Marat and Robespierre. In 1789, when the Bastille was taken, a clear symbol of despotism, his picture The lictors bring Brutus the bodies of his sons was shown at the exhibition and met with approval. A member of the Convention, a member of the Committees of Public Security and Public Education, David joined the ranks of revolutionaries.
When the ninth Thermidor, after a coup d’état, he was sentenced to the guillotine along with Robespierre, it was saved only thanks to his great glory of the artist and the tenacious defense of Thibodeau and Legendre. Imprisoned first in the prison of the Hotel de Ferme, and then of the Luxembourg Palace, he painted from behind the grille of the camera window his only landscape, considered one of the first romantic works.
(1799. Paris, Louvre) Full quotes from Raphael, Guido Reni and Poussin, this canvas indicates a return to historical and mythological subjects after years of intense creativity inspired by the ideals of the Revolution. After leaving prison, again at work in his Louvre workshop, David is the first to create this painting.
Faithful dear to him the atmosphere of heroism, the artist prefers in this picture a sense of inevitability leading all the characters to a common fate: a conscious run to death. The artist manages to perfectly combine the beauty of naked bodies with the cruelty of weapons. The location of the plot in a grandiose landscape is reminiscent of Poussin, who also interpreted this theme.
Jacques Louis David, who survived the crisis of the French Revolution, on the contrary, wanted to imagine the adventure of Napoleon as an epic. Bonaparte brought the nation out of confusion to freedom, created an empire with ever-widening borders, directed in an indefatigable march forward.
The French emperor is an expression of dynamic energy, he embodies the myth.
The rise of Napoleon at the dawn of the XIX century – one of the most victorious in modern history. Great conquerors maneuvered among betrayals, reproaches of conscience
and doubt, Napoleon remained whole, true to his ambition. On the contrary, his own ambition betrayed him.
David conveys in the image of Napoleon the duality of his nature.
Seduced and enchanted by the man who determined the fate of France, having completed the Revolution, and then sacrificing it, the artist agrees to become an official painter of the Napoleonic regime and shows through the images the parabola of his history from the sources to the coronation and to the defeat itself. But in this new role, he gradually becomes independent, and not merely fulfills the duty to formally represent the protagonist of historical events.
In his painting he creates a myth, challenging the primacy of reality.
Portraiture is an area in which the expressiveness of Jacques Louis David’s painting has reached its highest level. In addition to reflecting historical changes, new social ideals, renewal of the ruling political class, his paintings immediately began to influence the clothes, hairstyles and furniture of Paris of that time. Aristocrats vied with each other to order portraits or drawings to make furniture or clothes for them.
David liked to visit the salons of the rich bourgeoisie, which embodied the most revealing spirit of the era: a society where artists, philosophers, writers, writers, “debaters” are born, who will be the first victims of the revolution. In exquisite portraits of the bourgeois, the artist emphasized the importance of the individual, his mind and talent. In addition to reflecting the personality of the model, always presented in a comfortable position, David returns to her the laid-back, natural character and sharpness of self-awareness embodied in elegant and often monumental scenarios.
Trip to Rome
In the book “The Stars of Destiny” the art historian Marisa Volpi tells about the vicissitudes of life of nine artists – the main figures in the history of contemporary painting. Among them, the central place belongs to Jacques Louis David. In her “portrait from nature” Volpi recreates the environment and the era in which he lived and worked. All the dialogues took place in reality and documented. In the above passage refers to the arrival of David in Rome – the cradle of the ancient world.
In 1775, the twenty-seven-year-old David, finally received the first prize of the French Academy, comes to Rome. He travels with the new director of the Academy, Joseph Marie Vien, a strong sixty-year-old husband. This artist follows the fashion for Pompeian art. David is still a young man of twenty, and the energy he accumulated in anticipation of Italy makes the teacher, who admires him, but at the same time restrains, watches over his mood, call him “ardent.” The wives become a family for Louis, where they are tolerant of insurrections and are able to take care that he does not lose his head. With a pencil in his hand, he literally rushes to draw in museums: the new Museum of Pio Clementino, the meetings of Albani, Borghese, and, despite the changing climate, works outdoors at Villa Adriana, in the ancient Ostia, on Palatine Hill. In his albums he carries the figures of the ancient mysteries from bas-reliefs, helmets, cuirasses, furniture, he contemplates gillyflowers and tall grass among the ruins covered with moss, panoramas cut by dry shadows of clear days, columns, stairs, his attention lingers in the heavens in which criss-crossed cypresses and umbrellas of pines. In contrast to the excesses of the Baroque, the image depicted by David reflects an ascetic look and forms the basis for the rigid hardness of the drawing. The material of the world embodied by him – from bronze, even in the South with his free azure, David seeks to develop a “style that would surpass all others.” Rome in these years is the center of cosmopolitanism. As never before, the city is filled with crowds of painters and sculptors, dreamers, brilliant amateurs. Hungry looks devour the great art of the past. Here give vent to their extravagances and dreams. The sensual nature of the place and the traces of history transform everyone who looks around and makes sketches.
In his zeal, David, himself unaware of it, seeks to derive from classicism a kind of eternal emblematics. He is encouraged and falls in spirit, as is typical of his character, but immediately obeys the iron discipline. For five years he copied a lot of works, even brings to the workshop the casts from the Trajan’s Column. He begins a long war against his gift of ease of execution, against his adaptability to manners: he studies as a novice.
In the last year of continuous education in Rome, the exaltation of the artist is accompanied by delirium, mania, and this worries Josef Vien. He warns David of the danger of losing himself in the endless repetition of the motive, in the constant – all days and even months – staying at the Forum or in collections. The head of his beloved disciple is inhabited by ghosts, the inflamed mind does not give him rest. Depression follows extreme excitement. Vien, who treats him like a father, offers the young man to have fun, encourages him when he is tormented by doubts. And David confesses to him, as well as to Peyron, Vincent, his fellow academics: “I want my works to have an antique character to the extent that an Athenian, if he is able to return to the world, would take them for the creations of a Greek painter” .
One of the most famous historians of Italian art, Julie, about Carlo Argan views in the context of history the connection between Jacques Louis David and the policies of that time. In the XVIII century, the separation of culture from the church makes art the bearer of socio-political function. David was convinced that painting has inner rationality and therefore plays a positive civic role, regardless of the system, of which it is an expression.
Goya’s wartime, David was his opposite. One lived in France in a dissolute, anarchic, and then triumphantly imperial, another in Spain, eternally unhappy, superstitious, delusional, but they both felt in their own way that from now on art, like all culture, being freed from the church, is completely secular and in these historical conditions receives a social basis to become a political necessity. Which actually happened. The attitude of these artists to power was different: sarcastic, acrid, often frantic Goya and always flat, restrained David, sometimes inclined to panegyrics, but never servile. Like the architecture for Boulle and Ledoux, the painting for Goya and David contained a rationality of its own that took place within the global rationality of the system, but not subordinated to it. Being “correct” as a painting, she could not fail to perform correctly the socio-political function.
David had an ideal, but not an ideology. With undoubted consistency, he worked for the monarchy, the republic, the empire. He was a revolutionary and a Bonapartist more in debt than by conviction: there were scientists, politicians, generals who acted just like him. A member of the Convention, he voted for the death sentence to the king, for whom he wrote the Oath of Horace and Brutus: an act consistent with the spirit of these paintings. It was a heroic deed in the spirit of Saint-Just: duty without a shadow of passion. ”
1748. Louis Maurice David and Marie Genevieve Byron had a son – Jacques Louis David.
1757. Father is killed in a duel.
1771. David studies with Joseph Marie Vien and receives the second prize of the Academy of Painting for the painting The Battle of Minerva and Mars.
1772. After a series of setbacks, he attempts to commit suicide.
1774. Receives the first Academy Award for painting for the painting Erasistratus discovers the cause of the disease of Antiochus.
1775. On October 2nd, together with his teacher, Vienne departs for Rome, where he remains until 1780. He writes his first known canvases: Portrait of Count Potocki and Belisarius.
1782. Marries Charlotte Pekul, the daughter of a major contractor.
1783. His first son, Charles Louis Jules, was born.
1784. The second son, Eugene, was born. David travels to Rome for the second time, where Horatius Oath writes his painting.
1786. The birth of daughters-twins – Emily Felisite and Pauline Jeanne.
1789. In the hottest days of the French Revolution wrote the most famous of his paintings.
1792. Elected as a deputy of the National Convention and is one of the most radical of his representatives.
1793. Votes for the execution of the king and contributes to the abolition of the Academy of Painting.
1794. After the fall of Robespierre, he was arrested and spent one year in prison.
1800. Napoleon Bonaparte, First Consul, invites David to become an official artist of the government.
1804. Appointed the first painter of the emperor.
1805. Begins to write the Coronation, completed in 1807.
1808. Begins painting The distribution of imperial banners.
1815. During the “hundred days” he takes the side of Napoleon. With the onset of the Restoration, David leaves for Switzerland.
1816. Chooses for voluntary expulsion of Belgium, where he again paints pictures of mythological and elegiac plots. Rejects the invitation of the King of Prussia to come to Berlin.
1824. Becomes in Brussels victim of an accident: he is knocked down by a crew. With his wife, an apoplectic stroke occurs.
1825. Coming out of the theater, which he often visited in Brussels, he caught a bad cold. On December 29, the symptoms of the disease increase, and Jacques Louis David dies.