Artists in Neoclassicism – Jacques Louis David

Jacques Louis David-Self portrait - Neoclassicism periodThe most noted painter of this period was Jacques Louis David. David was born in 1748 into a middle class family.

At 16 he began to study at the Academie Royale under the Rococo regime. On a trip to Italy he was influenced by the classical genre and soon began to develop his own style. Later he became known as one of the artists to record the French Revolution and was even elected to high office within the party. He was a good friend of Robespierre. Later, he was imprisoned because of crimes committed during the reign of terror. He was later released and became the official painter of Napoleon Bonaparte and created huge masterpieces such as the coronation.

During his life, David painted for the royalty first, then for radical revolutionaries during the French Revolution and in the end for the emperor Napoleon. His political allegiances changed, but he was always loyal to Neoclassicism and its values of harmony, simplicity and proportion.

One of his most famous pieces is the Oath of the Horatii which is a classic version of all things the neoclassical period represents, with classic representation of the ideal forms of the Roman art era and dramatic lighting.

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