Jaeqnes Lonis David, a French painter, born in Paris, Aug. 31, 1748, died in Brussels, Dec. 29, 1825. His taste for painting was fostered by his uncle Buron, the architect, and developed in the studio of the historical painter Vien. David, having obtained in 1775 the great prize for one of his paintings, followed his master to Rome, and there imbibed that love for classic art which afterward caused him to be hailed in France as the great reformer of painting. His first important work, the "Plague of St. Roch" (1779), was executed at Rome for the lazaretto of Marseilles. This was followed, after his return to Paris in 1780, by "Belisa-rius" and "Andromache lamenting the Death of Hector." In 1784 he revisited Rome, and there finished the "Horatii," which was greeted with enthusiasm in Italy and France. In 1787 he produced the "Death of Socrates;" in 1788, the "Loves of Paris and Helen;" and in 1789, his famous "Brutus," which had been ordered by Louis XVI. as a pendant to the "Horatii." Revolutionist and painter at the same time, he executed in 1790 for the constituent assembly the "Oath of the Tennis Court" and the "Entry of Louis XVI. into the Assembly," and in 1793 painted the assassination of Lepelletier and of Marat. He was also consulted in reference to the arrangement of festivals and the costumes of civil and military officers, fixing his classic ideas upon dress and manners.
In 1793, being a member of the convention, he voted for the death of the king. Imprisoned after the downfall of Robespierre, he was released after four months, through the intercession of his pupils, but soon rearrested and detained until the amnesty of October, 1795. "While in prison he commenced his celebrated picture of the "Sabines," which he finished in 1799. He executed for Napoleon a series of works of which the "Coronation" and the "Distribution of Eagles" pleased the emperor best; while the picture in which Bonaparte is represented upon an impetuous horse, on Mount St. Bernard, pointing out to his soldiers the path to Italy, was the most popular. Expelled from France soon after Napoleon's downfall, he went to Brussels, but before his departure gave proof of his patriotism by refusing to execute the portrait of the duke of Wellington. At Brussels he produced " Cupid and Psyche," the "Farewell of Telemachus and Eucharis," the "Wrath of Achilles," and "Mars disarmed by Venus,"which were exhibited all over Belgium for charitable purposes; while a copy of his "Coronation of Napoleon," also executed by him at Brussels, made a successful tour through Great Britain and the United States. In his later pictures we find the classic rigidity of his previous works softened by a great infusion of sentiment.
He painted some excellent portraits, among which his heads of Marat and Pius VII. are most remarkable. Girodet, Gros, Gerard, Drouais, Ingres, Isabey, David d'Angers, and many others who became eminent artists, were among his pupils, and disciples of the new school which he inaugurated. His body was buried at Ste. Gudule in Brussels, and his heart in Pere-la-Chaise, where his family have erected a monument to his memory.