Sunday, August 30, 2009

A little to the left, gentlemen, if you please

Today's hero is the dapper fellow above, one Jacques-Louis David born this day 1748, in Paris, France. The self-portrait above does not show the facial tumor he had as a child, which helped keep him from being an outgoing study, and thus he was always hiding behind the instructor's chair filling notebooks with drawings. An inspiration to failures everywhere he attempted to win the Prix De Rome four times between 1770 and 1774, and managed to fail to win each time. Not to be discouraged he then goes on to paint such lovely paintings as the Death of Socrates, the Oath of the Horatii, and the Death of Marat. The last painting was his masterpiece, and immortalized both him, and that poor, dead bastard Marat. Guess David got the best of that deal. Like a lot of people, he, at first, chose to back the wrong pony during the French Revolution becoming fast friends with Robespierre. Only a bout of stomach pain kept him from being guillotined with that manic. Tossed into prison, he painted a self-portrait of himself depicting himself much younger that he actually was, and conceived of the idea of a series of painting about the Sabine Women. These paintings attracted the attention of Napoleon, and after a bit, David found himself to be the official painter for the Emperor of the French. Even managing to paint Napoleon crossing the Alps on a "fiery steed." When he actually managed to cross them on a mule. After Napoleon's fall, David chose exile rather than the post as court painter to Louis XVIII, I suppose at least after picking the right horse he decided to ride it to the end. So for helping advance the art of painting from the rococo style to a more classical style, and for showing that history may in truth ride a jackass, but needs to be portrayed as riding a stunning white charger, Jacques-Louis David (August 30th 1748-December 29th, 1825, after being run down like a dog by a carriage in Brussels), you are my hero of the day.

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