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Artist Jacques Louis David produced this portrait of his wife in 1813, and his career in full of paintings that he produced of friends and family, sometimes then given as gifts.
The model looks slightly shy or unsure in her facial expression, perhaps not used to sitting for her husband. She wears a modest but pretty light grey dress without too many flourishes to its design. She sports a matching piece of headwear that covers most of her hair. Just a few curls of brown hair make their way down her forehead. She has naturally rosy cheeks, without any great amount of makeup added, unlike some of the artist's other portraits of perhaps more flamboyant individuals. She sits on a mustard coloured chair and holds a red cloth around her midrift which just adds a little extra interest to the composition. For the artist to produce this painting, it clearly shows his devotion and respect for his wife and is proud to feature her within his work. These portraits of family members also help historians to get a better idea about the artist's various relationships by examining closely different details in the work.
Marguerite Charlotte Pécoul was the name of the artist's wife and they married in 1782, after which they had four children together. Documentation around this piece has confirmed its origin. The artist himself produced a list of his works, up to the point, in 1815 and he referred to this painting as "Le portrait de Me David mon épouse". It can now be found in the collection of the National Gallery of Art in the US. That institution also holds original artworks from the likes of Sir Peter Paul Rubens (Daniel in the Lion's Den), Haskell's House by Edward Hopper, The Last of the Buffalo by Albert Bierstadt and also The Farm by Joan Miro.
Jacques Louis David remains one of the most respected artists in history, certainly amongst the finest technicians to have been found in French art around this period. The nation itself was innovating new ideas all the time and helping to lead the way across Europe, with other notable contributors including Chardin, Gericault and Delacroix. It is certainly worth taking the time to understand more about the key names involved in French art from around the 17th to the 19th century and much of it was influential towards what we have today. Regarding specifically David, whilst the artwork captured here is of significant note, it is not one of his most famous - study the likes of The Death of Marat, Napoleon Crossing the Alps and The Oath of Horatii for examples of the best known works from his career and most of his entire oeuvre is featured within this website.