Joyeux anniversaire

Posted in anniversaries by Editor on August 30, 2009

Jacques-Louis David, "Self-Portrait," oil on canvas, 32 x 26 inches, 1794 (Paris: Louvre)

Jacques-Louis David turns 261 today. Born in Paris on 30 August 1748, he died in Brussels in 1825 at age 77. Of the artist’s Self-Portrait from 1794, Philippe Bordes notes that

the only source of information concerning this painting is a recollection by David’s pupil Pierre-Maximilien Delafontaine, who accompanied him to prison on 2 August 1794: ‘It was in the Hôtel des Fermes [the prison] that he made a portrait of himself from the mirror I brought to him. This portrait was given by him a few years later to Isabey, the miniature painter and his pupil. He is represented dressed in a greatcoat, the costume of the period’. . . Worth noting is that David did not want to keep this work associated with his close call with the guillotine and his year in prison and that never again would he execute a self-portrait.

See Bordes, Jacques-Louis David: Empire to Exile (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005), p. 16. For the quotation, see Daniel Wildenstein and Guy Wildenstein, Documents complémentaires au catalogue de l’oeuvre de Louis David (Paris, 1973), p. 114; Bordes also also points the reader to Ewa Lajer-Burcharth, “Les oeuvres de David en prison: art engagé après Thermidor,” La Revue du Louvre et des Musées de France 39 (1989): 310-21.

Tagged with:
%d bloggers like this: