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Jacques Louis David produced several portraits of the Sériziat family during his career and this one features Pierre outdoors, sat upon some rocks. It was completed in 1795, the same year as a portrait of Emilie, his wife.
The grand-looking gentleman is dressed particularly smartly, with a dark top hat that reaches out towards the top of the canvas. The artist is positioned lower, so as to give the impression to the model of being of great power and stature. He looks relaxed but confident, staring at the viewer. His pose is fairly relaxed, with one leg over another. He holds something in his right hand which reminds us of leisure time that could only have been enjoyed by the rich and famous during that period. In the background we see very little detail added in order to ensure that the full focus remains on Pierre himself. There is a blue sky with light clouds to brighten things up, and perhaps some green foliage behind the model. The sandy colour of his trousers also provides an enjoyable contrast with the rest of his clothing which is predominantly in tones of black and white.
The two commissioned portraits remain under the ownership of the Louvre in Paris, a venue that has been used by artists for centuries to learn more about previous generations of work. Even some of the most famous names in art history have actually had to apply for permits in order to be allowed the great privilege of perusing certain artworks for extended periods, sometimes during out of hours events. It is easy to understand why this venue has proven so popular, with an extroardinary collection to be found here which comprehensively covers a good number of major European art movements. Their neo-classical section includes both of these two commissioned artworks, along with a number of other paintings by Jacques Louis David, such as The Intervention of the Sabine Women and The Coronation of Napoleon. Additionally, you will also find a number of significant Ingres paintings in the vicinity as well.
Pierre Sériziat was the artist's brother in law and they would spend time together in 1795 at the Sériziat mansion, which lied close to Paris. They took him in for some time after David became ill and they lived together for several months as he recuperated in the countryside. He was eternally grateful for their help and chose to produce these portraits as a celebration of their friendship. No doubt the artist's wife would also have been pleased to see such a bond, particularly at a time when her husband was struggling both with health issues, but also with the continued political instabilities across France at the time.