(b Paris, 30 Aug. 1748; d Brussels, 29 Dec. 1825). French history painter and portraitist. He was the greatest of Neoclassical painters and one of the most influential European artists of his time. On the advice of the aged Boucher, a distant relative, he was apprenticed to Vien in 1766 and in the same year he became a student at the Académie Royale. In 1774 he won the Prix de Rome at the fifth attempt, and the following year he went to Italy with Vien, who had been appointed director of the French Academy in Rome. David remained in Italy until 1780 and during this period he purged his work of Rococo mannerisms and developed a heroic style heavily influenced by his study of antique sculpture and his admiration for Poussin and Raphael. After his return to Paris he quickly rose to be the leading painter of the day.

Text source: The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists (Oxford University Press)

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