David painted his first self-portrait in 1784, in which he looks like a figure by Fragonard. This picture, which he painted in prison after the fall of Robespierre, expressed--perhaps more fully than the others--David's power and truthfulness, his determination, lucidity, and self-respect.
One of David's whims
Commissioned by Madame Récamier in 1800, the picture remained unfinished for reasons unknown. David was not satisfied with it and wanted to rework it but Madame Récamier, who thought David worked too slowly, commissioned one of his pupils to paint her portrait instead. Vexed by this, David said to his model: "Women have their whims, and so do artists; allow me to satisfy mine by keeping this portrait." The painting remained in his studio, unfinished, and was probably not seen by the public until after it entered the Louvre in 1826. In 1864, Théophile Gautier wrote of Madame Récamier's "indescribable attraction, like the poetry of the unknown."
- Oil on Canvas, 10' 10" x 13' 11""
- Musée du Louvre at Paris
This painting occupies an extremely important place in the body of David's work and in the history of French painting. It was commissioned by the Administrator of Royal Residences in 1784 and exhibited at the 1785 Salon under the title The Oath of the Horatii, between their Father's Hands. The story was taken from Titus-Livy. We are in the period of the wars between Rome and Alba, in 669 B.C.
- Oil on Canvas, 9' 11 1/2" x 7' 2"
- Musee du Louvre, Paris
- Oil on Canvas, 80 1/4" x 49 1/4"
- The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C