Monday, 28 September 2020

David - the final portrait

Jérôme-Martin Langlois, Portrait of David, 88cm x 74.5cm Louvre
This reproduction: https://www.pubhist.com/w41041

I am posting this portrait of David by Langlois for no better reason than that it is the last image from life of one of the world's great artists -  but also simply because it is such a beautiful painting.   I have known old people whose skin becomes perfect and fragile-looking in just this way; and whose shrunken bodies seem too small for their enveloping clothes as does David in his favourite frockcoat.

Jérôme-Martin Langlois (1778-1838) was a favourite student of David's, and collaborated with him on several important canvasses, including Napoleon Crossing the Alps and Leonidas at Thermopylae.  He was also responsible for the high-quality copy of the Marat now in Versailles.  Remaining in David's shadow, he later failed to gain the independent reputation that his talent might have deserved.  In 1824 Langlois journeyed specially to Brussels to paint this final portrait of the master.  

The Carnavalet holds a fine preparatory study, bequeathed to the museum by one of Langlois's descendants in 1953: