The founder and leading painter of the neoclassical movement in France, Jacques-Louis David was born in Paris to a prosperous family of artists and archi-tects. In 1766 he entered the Académie Royale as the pupil of Joseph-Marie Vien (1716-1809). After several failed attempts, David won the Prix de Rome in 1774. The following year he left for Italy, where he studied antique art and envisioned replacing the frivolity of the rococo with an art of grandeur, simplicity, and moral virtue. After returning to Paris in 1780, he established his reputa-tion with three spectacular successes at the Salon: The Oath of the Horatii (1785, Musée du Louvre, Paris), The Death of Socrates (1787, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York), and The Lictors Bring-ing Brutus the Bodies of His Sons (1789, Musée du Louvre, Paris). Widely interpreted as moral parables for contemporary political events, these archetypes of neoclassical aesthetics set the standard for academic painting of the next century. In the 1790s David joined the radical Jacobin Club and played an active role in the French Revolution. He allied himself with Robespierre, served a short term as president of the Convention, and voted for the execution of Louis XVI. He also placed his artistic talents at the service of the Revolution by creating paintings that glorified its martyrs and by organizing public festivals that celebrated the new political order. As the most prominent artist in the revolutionary ranks, he led the attack against the Académie Royale that culminated in its abolish-ment in 1793. When the excesses of the Reign of Terror precipitated the fall of Robespierre in 1794, David was imprison-ed but spared execution. Authorities released him the following year due to ill health. Around 1798 David developed a new alliance with the brilliant young general of the Directory, Napoléon Bonaparte. David's painting The Intervention of the Sabine Women (1799, Musée du Louvre, Paris) coalesced perfectly with Napoleonic propaganda urging national reconciliation. After the coup d'état of 1799, Napoléon was named first consul and began supplying David with important commissions. Upon Napoléon's coronation in 1804, David was appointed first painter to the emperor. David's monumental painting The Coronation of Napoléon, or Le Sacre (1805-7, Musée du Louvre, Paris), introduced a less spartan, more colorful and emotive style. However, as seen in his life-size portrait Napoléon in His Study (1812, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.), David increasingly searched to balance this new heroic-romanticism with an exacting realism. In 1816, following Napoléon's defeat at Waterloo and the restoration of the monarchy, David went into exile in Belgium. He spent the last nine years of his life in Brussels, painting mostly mythological subjects and portraits. David died of a stroke in 1825 and was denied burial in France.