Jacques Louis David – Madame Recamier

Jacques Louis David
Madame Recamier – Oil on canvas
244 x 75 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris
(source – www.louvre.fr )

The French artist Jacques Louis David (1748-1825) was the leader of the neoclassic movement. He was also a fervent supporter of both the French Revolution and later of Napoleon Bonabarte. He spent his later years in exile in Belgium. His style set the artistic standards for many of his contemporaries and determined the direction of numerous 19th-century painters.

Juliette Récamier (the subject), the wife of a Parisian banker, was one of the most famous socialites of her time. This portrait, showing her dressed in the "antique style" and surrounded by Pompeian furniture in an otherwise bare picture space, was extremely avant-garde for 1800. Exactly why it was never finished is unclear, but its state enables one to study David’s technique before his vibrant preliminary brushwork and background rubbings were "glazed over" with translucent colours.

One of the work’s innovative aspects is its horizontal format, unusual for a portrait, and habitually reserved for history paintings. The bare space around the figure emphasizes the elegant arabesque of Madame Récamier’s reclined body. Her antique pose, the bare décor and light dress all epitomize neoclassical ideals. The clear harmony of the ensemble, due to Juliette Récamier’s white dress, is brightened up by the warm hues of the furniture. Only the model’s head is nearly finished, and David has not yet added highlights to the impasto of her dress. The accessories, walls and floor are merely sketched in with vibrant brushstrokes, with the white undercoat still showing through in places. The canvas’ unfinished state gives the picture a mysterious, poetic appearance doubtless very different to the finished portrait David had in mind. (source – www.louvre.fr )

Here is the full paining and a close up, Enjoy




Filed under Art

2 responses to “Jacques Louis David – Madame Recamier

  1. Angel eyes

    maybe it\’s just old fashioned me but I love this person\’s work and this is such a fine example  thank you again   angel eyes

  2. joe

    nothing old-fashioned about loving good art, matey.  another beauty, dermott.  cheers!

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