David on the Enthusiasm for the Horatii in Rome

Oath of the Horatii / David

I must inform you, marquis, of the success of my painting, which is so unexpected given the reluctance of the Romans to find anything good in a French painter. But this time, they came in good faith, and the crowd coming to see my painting is almost as large as at that at the Comédie du Séducteur. What a pleasure it would be for you, who appreciates me, to witness this—so I must at least describe it for you. First the foreign painters, and then the Italian ones gave the painting such high praise that the aristocrats took notice. They rushed to see the painting, and now in Rome no one speaks of anything but me and the Horatii. This morning I have an appointment to see the Venetian ambassador. The cardinals want to see this rare animal too, and since everyone knows that the painting has to leave the city very soon, everyone is rushing to see it.

Jacques-Louis David, letter to the Marquis de Bièvre, August 8, 1795