François Gérard

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Francois Gérard
Thomas Lawrence - Francois Gerard.jpg
Francois Gérard aged 54,
by Sir Thomas Lawrence
François Pascal Simon Gérard

(1770-03-12)12 March 1770 [1]
Rome, Italy
Died11 January 1837(1837-01-11) (aged 66)
Paris, France
Education Pajou, Brenet, David
Known for Portrait painting

François Pascal Simon Gérard (4 May 1770 – 11 January 1837), [1] titled as Baron Gérard in 1809, was a prominent French painter. He was born in Rome, where his father occupied a post in the house of the French ambassador, and his mother was Italian. After he was made a baron of the Empire in 1809 by Emperor Napoleon, he was known formally as Baron Gérard.

Rome Capital city and comune in Italy

Rome is the capital city and a special comune of Italy. Rome also serves as the capital of the Lazio region. With 2,872,800 residents in 1,285 km2 (496.1 sq mi), it is also the country's most populated comune. It is the fourth most populous city in the European Union by population within city limits. It is the centre of the Metropolitan City of Rome, which has a population of 4,355,725 residents, thus making it the most populous metropolitan city in Italy. Rome is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, within Lazio (Latium), along the shores of the Tiber. The Vatican City is an independent country inside the city boundaries of Rome, the only existing example of a country within a city: for this reason Rome has been often defined as capital of two states.

Napoleon 18th/19th-century French monarch, military and political leader

Napoléon Bonaparte was a French statesman and military leader who rose to prominence during the French Revolution and led several successful campaigns during the French Revolutionary Wars. He was Emperor of the French as Napoleon I from 1804 until 1814 and again briefly in 1815 during the Hundred Days. Napoleon dominated European and global affairs for more than a decade while leading France against a series of coalitions in the Napoleonic Wars. He won most of these wars and the vast majority of his battles, building a large empire that ruled over much of continental Europe before its final collapse in 1815. He is considered one of the greatest commanders in history, and his wars and campaigns are studied at military schools worldwide. Napoleon's political and cultural legacy has endured as one of the most celebrated and controversial leaders in human history.


Life and career

François Gérard was born in Rome to J. S. Gérard and Cleria Matteï. [2] At the age of twelve, Gérard obtained admission into the Pension du Roi in Paris. From the Pension, he passed to the studio of the sculptor Augustin Pajou, which he left at the end of two years for the studio of the history painter Nicolas-Guy Brenet, [3] whom he quit almost immediately to place himself under Jacques-Louis David.

Paris Capital of France

Paris is the capital and most populous city of France, with an area of 105 square kilometres and an official estimated population of 2,140,526 residents as of 1 January 2019. Since the 17th century, Paris is one of Europe's major centres of finance, diplomacy, commerce, fashion, science, and the arts.

Augustin Pajou French artist

Augustin Pajou was a French sculptor, born in Paris. At eighteen he won the Prix de Rome, and at thirty exhibited his Pluton tenant Cerbère enchaîné.

Nicolas-Guy Brenet painter

Nicolas-Guy Brenet was a French history painter.

In 1789, he competed for the Prix de Rome, which was carried off by his comrade Girodet. In the following year (1790), he again presented himself, but the death of his father prevented the completion of his work and obliged him to accompany his mother to Rome. In 1791, he returned to Paris, but his poverty was so great that he was forced to forgo his studies in favor of employment which would bring in immediate profit. David at once availed himself of his help, and one of that master's most celebrated portraits, of Louis-Michel Le Pelletier de Saint-Fargeau, may owe much to the hand of Gérard. This painting was executed early in 1793, the year in which Gérard, at the request of David, was named a member of the revolutionary tribunal, from the fatal decisions of which he, however, invariably absented himself.

Prix de Rome French scholarship for arts students

The Prix de Rome or Grand Prix de Rome was a French scholarship for arts students, initially for painters and sculptors, that was established in 1663 during the reign of Louis XIV of France. Winners were awarded a bursary that allowed them to stay in Rome for three to five years at the expense of the state. The prize was extended to architecture in 1720, music in 1803, and engraving in 1804. The prestigious award was abolished in 1968 by André Malraux, the Minister of Culture.

Anne-Louis Girodet de Roussy-Trioson French painter

Anne-Louis Girodet de Roussy-Trioson, also known as Anne-Louis Girodet-Trioson, was a French painter and pupil of Jacques-Louis David, who participated in the early Romantic movement by including elements of eroticism in his paintings. Girodet is remembered for his precise and clear style and for his paintings of members of the Napoleonic family.

Louis-Michel le Peletier, marquis de Saint-Fargeau French politician

Louis-Michel le Peletier, Marquis of Saint-Fargeau was a French politician and martyr of the French revolution.

Family tomb in Montparnasse Cemetery Grave of Francois Gerard.JPG
Family tomb in Montparnasse Cemetery

In 1794, he obtained the first prize in a competition, the subject of which was The Tenth of August, that is, the storming of the Tuileries Palace. Further stimulated by the successes of his rival and friend Girodet in the Salons of 1793 and 1794, Gérard (aided by Jean-Baptiste Isabey, the miniaturist) produced in 1795 his famous Bélisaire. In 1796, a portrait of his generous friend (conserved today in the Louvre) obtained undisputed success, and the money received from Isabey for these two works enabled Gérard to execute in 1797 his Psyche et l'Amour (illustration). [4] At last, in 1799, his portrait of Madame Mère established his position as one of the foremost portrait-painters of the day.

Jean-Baptiste Isabey French painter

Jean-Baptiste Isabey was a French painter born at Nancy.

Louvre Art museum and Historic site in Paris, France

The Louvre, or the Louvre Museum, is the world's largest art museum and a historic monument in Paris, France. A central landmark of the city, it is located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the city's 1st arrondissement. Approximately 38,000 objects from prehistory to the 21st century are exhibited over an area of 72,735 square metres. In 2018, the Louvre was the world's most visited art museum, receiving 10.2 million visitors.

Letizia Ramolino Mother of Napolean

Nob.Maria Letizia BuonapartenéeRamolino was an Italian noblewoman, mother of Napoleon I of France.

In 1808, as many as eight (and in 1810, no less than fourteen) portraits by him were exhibited at the Salon, and these figures afford only an indication of the enormous numbers which he executed yearly. All of the leading figures of the Empire and of the Bourbon Restoration, and all of the most celebrated men and women of Europe, sat for Gérard. This extraordinary vogue was due partly to the charm of his manner and conversation, for his salon was as much frequented as his studio. Madame de Staël, George Canning, Talleyrand and the Duke of Wellington have all borne witness to the attraction of his society.

Bourbon Restoration Period of French history, 1814-1830

The Bourbon Restoration was the period of French history following the first fall of Napoleon in 1814, and his final defeat in the Hundred Days in 1815, until the July Revolution of 1830. The brothers of the executed Louis XVI came to power, and reigned in highly conservative fashion; exiled supporters of the monarchy returned to France. They were nonetheless unable to reverse most of the changes made by the French Revolution and Napoleon. At the Congress of Vienna they were treated respectfully, but had to give up nearly all the territorial gains made since 1789.

George Canning British statesman and politician

George Canning was a British Tory statesman who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from April to August 1827. He occupied various senior cabinet positions under numerous prime ministers, before eventually serving himself as Prime Minister for the final four months of his life.

Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington British soldier and statesman

Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, was an Anglo-Irish soldier and Tory statesman who was one of the leading military and political figures of 19th-century Britain, serving twice as Prime Minister. His victory against Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 puts him in the first rank of Britain's military heroes.

Rich and famous, Gérard was stung by remorse for earlier ambitions abandoned; at intervals, he had indeed striven with Girodet and other rivals to prove his strength at history painting, still a more prestigious genre than portraiture. His Bataille d'Austerlitz (1810) showed a breadth of invention and style which was even more conspicuous in L'Entrée d'Henri IV à Paris (at Versailles), the work with which in 1817 he paid homage to the returned Louis XVIII. After this date, Gérard declined, watching with impotent grief the progress of the Romantic school.

History painting genre in painting defined by historical matter

History painting is a genre in painting defined by its subject matter rather than artistic style. History paintings usually depict a moment in a narrative story, rather than a specific and static subject, as in a portrait. The term is derived from the wider senses of the word historia in Latin and Italian, meaning "story" or "narrative", and essentially means "story painting". Most history paintings are not of scenes from history, especially paintings from before about 1850.

Romanticism period of artistic, literary, and intellectual movement that started in 18th century Europe

Romanticism was an artistic, literary, musical and intellectual movement that originated in Europe toward the end of the 18th century, and in most areas was at its peak in the approximate period from 1800 to 1850. Romanticism was characterized by its emphasis on emotion and individualism as well as glorification of all the past and nature, preferring the medieval rather than the classical. It was partly a reaction to the Industrial Revolution, the aristocratic social and political norms of the Age of Enlightenment, and the scientific rationalization of nature—all components of modernity. It was embodied most strongly in the visual arts, music, and literature, but had a major impact on historiography, education, the social sciences, and the natural sciences. It had a significant and complex effect on politics, with romantic thinkers influencing liberalism, radicalism, conservatism and nationalism.

Loaded with honors – baron of the Empire in 1809, member of the Institut on 7 March 1812, officer of the Légion d'honneur , first painter to the king – he worked on, sad and discouraged. The revolution of 1830 added to his disquiet, and on 11 January 1837, after three days of fever, he died.

Gérard is best remembered for his portraits. The color of his paintings has suffered, but his drawings show in uninjured delicacy the purity of his line, and those of women are specially remarkable for a virginal simplicity and frankness of expression. His students included Heinrich Christoph Kolbe.

Selected works

See also

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  1. 1 2 Some sources say he was born on 4 May 1770, however his tombstone (Montparnasse Cemetery, 1st division) reads: "Ici reposent – François Pascal Simon baron Gérard, né à Rome le 12 mars 1770, mort à Paris le 11 janvier 1837 – Jacques Alexandre Gérard, né à Paris le 13 avril 1780, mort à Paris le 28 octobre 1832 – Marguerite Françoise Matteï, [épouse] de F. Gérard, née à Rome le 7 avril 1775, morte à Auteuil le 1er décembre 1848 – Sophie Catherine Sylvoz, [épouse d'Alexandre] Gérard, née à Chambéry le 8 [octobre] 1792, morte à Paris le 16 mars 1867 – La famille à leur mémoire chère."
  2. Henri Gérard 1888
  3. Nicolas-Guy Brenet (1728–1792), professor at the Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture, 1778. Michael Bryan, Dictionary of Painters and Engravers, s.v. "Brenet, Nicolas Guy". Brenet was also the master of Jean Germain Drouais.
  4. At the Hong Kong Book Fair 2007, Hong Kong's Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority forced the publisher of a Chinese book, translated from Korean, Love Mythology: Love Stories in Greek and Roman Mythology: 12 Keys to Understand Myths of Love Theme (Author: Lee Eyun Kee Publisher: [Taiwan] Yuan Liou) bearing Gérard's "Psyché et l'Amour" on the cover to temporarily withdraw it from sale.