Museum Home Past Exhibitions Jacques-Louis David: Empire to Exile

February 1–April 24, 2005 at the Getty Center

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Prison Napoleon Portraits Exile Timeline

Jacques-Louis David (1748–1825) lived at a time of political and social turmoil. Explore the events of his age in the timeline below.

Ancien Regime, 1748-1789French Revolution, 1789-1799Age of Napoleon, 1799-1815Era of Exile, 1815-1830
The Forum / Kobke

1748 Jacques-Louis David is born into an upper-class family in Paris, France.

Excavations begin in the ancient Roman city of Pompeii.

1751 The first volume of the Encyclopedia is published in Paris.

What was the Encyclopedia?

1765 Determined to be an artist, the teenaged David becomes a student of leading classicizing painter Joseph-Marie Vien.

Emperor Napoleon / David

1769 Napoleon Bonaparte is born in Corsica.

Who was Napoleon Bonaparte?

1774 David wins the Prix de Rome, a scholarship awarded by the French government to enable young French artists to study in Rome.

What was the Prix de Rome?

King Louis XV / Le Moyne

Louis XV dies and Louis XVI assumes the throne at the age of 20. He inherits a huge national debt and a populace angry about crushing taxes.

Seated Male Figures / David

1775 David goes to Rome for a five-year period of study at the Académie de France. He makes hundreds of sketches of Greek, Roman, and Italian Renaissance and Baroque architecture and sculpture.

See more sketches by David from his study in Rome.

1781 David's paintings are ecstatically received at the Salon, France's official art exhibition. He is admitted as an associate member of the Académie Royale.

Learn how artists were trained in 18th-century France.

1783 David receives further acclaim at the Salon and is admitted as a full member of the Académie Royale.

1784 David's Oath of the Horatii explores the conflict between the state and the family. The painting resonates with the tensions and conflicts of the brewing French Revolution.

Read David's description of the public enthusiasm for this painting.

Sons of Brutus / David

1789 David's painting Brutus and the Lictors (of which a drawing is shown here) dramatizes the themes of patriotism and moral duty.

What's going on in this drawing?