one. Born in 1748, while Louis the Fifteenth was yet on the throne, he early gave evidence of the possession of artistic talents; and, when he had attained the requisite age, became a pupil of Joseph-Marie Vien, Director of the French Academy at Rome, and afterwards Commander of the Legion of Honour when that order had been instituted by Napoleon, Having completed his studies in Italy, he returned to France, and, like Percier, opened a school, the fame of which attracted many students to its doors. He revisited Italy in 1784, and on his second return was hailed as "The Regenerator of French Art/' His admission to the Academy followed, and apartments were accorded to him in the Louvre, together with the title u Painter to the King " (Louis the Sixteenth), When the people of France commenced to gorge themselves with blood, David displayed an insatiable appetite for it; forsook his "appartements" at the Louvre; forgot the favours that had been heaped upon him by royalty; became a member of the National Convention, joined hands with Robespierre, for whom he formed a great personal attachment; and, when the death of the king had been decided upon, was the loudest to clamour for the head of his sovereign, and the foremost to hurl the vilest insults at him upon whom he had previously fawned for favour. When he was deprived of the protection of Robespierre, and was himself brought face to face with "Mademoiselle de Paris/' his head was left on his shoulders on account of his genius as an artist; so he hastily abandoned party politics and returned to art, in which he became « Dictator/'
Such were the men to whom Napoleon looked for the creation of the art of the First Empire; men who laid the foundation of the "Empire" style, and, further, did much towards the completion of the edifice. Percier and Fontaine were set to work early to restore Malmaison and other palaces, as well as to complete the Louvre and the Tuileries; while, in the direction of the fine arts, the influence of David
Was this article helpful?