Portrait of Marguerite-Charlotte David, née Pecoul
Portrait of Marguerite-Charlotte David / David

With her modest smile and posture, Madame David shows none of the aristocratic hauteur of many of David's subjects. This likeness is not particularly flattering, but David—who was himself described as unattractive, even ugly—was said to be very proud of this painting.

Madame David was neither elegant nor beautiful, but she was intelligent and observant. She also adored her husband. She cared for their four children and acted as David's agent, helping to drive up his colossal fees. One visitor to David's studio described Madame David as "shrewd, penetrating, sagacious, and sarcastic... congenial to the taste of David."

The Davids separated and divorced during the Revolution, but remarried in 1796 and enjoyed a close, harmonious relationship. David and his wife had been together for over 30 years when he painted this portrait of her.

Listen to a discussion of this image.

See more portraits of David's family.