David was born on 30 August of 1748. When the boy was about 10 years old his father, Louis-Maurice, died after a pistol duel. Two uncles of David, François Buron and Jacques- François Desmaisonswho were both architects and building contractors, took over the upbringing of children. First he was educated at a boarding school and the Collège des Quatre Nations in Paris. When he decided on thecareer of an artist his uncles helped him to become a student of Joseph-Marie Vien (1716-1809), a professor at the Academy who had a reputation as a good teacher. As many young painters, David usedhis close relatives as his models, thus he painted both his uncles, his aunt Marie-Josephe, and his cousin Marie-Françoise, who had supported his wish to become a painter.
In 1766-1774 David studied atthe Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture, in Vein's class. The goal of practically every Academy student was to win the premier student prize: the Grand Prix, or Prix de Rome. David took part inthe competition every year starting from 1770, until at last in 1774 he finally won it with Antiochus and Stratonice. After that he spent 5 years in Italy (1775-1780), where drew from antique models.On his return to Paris in 1780, Ancient history and mythology became his favorite subject. In 1781 David was made an Associate member of the Academy for his work Belisarius, which was much admired, andtwo years later, in 1783, he became a full Academician for Andromache Mourning Hector. In 1784, he fulfilled Louis XVI’s commission - The Oath of the Horatii.
David enthusiastically greeted theFrench Revolution and from 1789 he actively participated in political life. In 1791 he was elected a deputy of the Convention from Paris. He voted for the death of Louis XVI in 1793 and supportedRobespierre’s and the left radicals’ regime; David was a member of the Committee of Public Safety and artistic director of the great national fêtes founded on classical customs. After the 9 Termidor (27...
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