François-Xavier Fabre

Dates1766 - 1837
BornMontpellier, France
DiedMontpellier, France

After several years at Montpellier's art academy, François-Xavier Fabre joined Jacques-Louis David's studio in Paris. His studies were funded by Philippe-Laurent de Joubert, financier, art collector, and father of Laurent-Nicolas de Joubert, whose portrait by Fabre hangs in the Getty Museum. In 1787 Fabre became David's second pupil to win the Prix de Rome. Upheavals in revolutionary France and Fabre's monarchist sympathies kept him in Italy for much of his life. Moving to Florence in 1793, Fabre found patrons in Italian aristocrats and tourists who appreciated the elegance, realism, and precision of his portraits. As a member of the Florentine academy and an art teacher, art collector, and art dealer, Fabre was prominent in Florentine society. Changing fashions, lack of patrons' interest, and gout caused him to abandon history painting for portraiture, landscape, and printmaking, though he remained a lifelong devotee of David's Neoclassicism. In 1824 his companion, the countess of Albany, died and left Fabre her fortune. Returning to France, Fabre increasingly dedicated himself to his hometown of Montpellier, founding an art school and curating his donations of books, paintings, drawings, and artworks. The Musée Fabre was inaugurated on his feast day in 1828.