A pupil of Jacques Louis David, and friend of Eugéne Delacroix, the Baron Antoine Jean Gros (1771-1835) deviated from his master's teaching as much as Girodet did but in a much more influential way for the development of the Romantic style. When David went into exile after the fall of Napoleon, Gros took over his studio. In 1796 he lived in Milan where he first met Napoleon, whose deeds he celebrated in such large canvases as the Pest House at Jaffa and the Bataille des Pyramides. He painted portraits and romantic literary subjects, but his reputation was made by his close association with Napoleon.

In his Pest House at Jaffa painted in 1804, Gros took a then radically independent tack, sorting through and selecting a number of Baroque pictorial devices of light, shade and perspective to create a dramatic tableau testifying to the superhuman power and glory of Napoleon Bonaparte. His subject matter was mostly heroism and heroic figures. He depicted contemporary events as a Romatic presentaion on huge canvases. He used of imbedded references in Pest House at Jaffa where he gathered second hand information in his portrayal Bonaparte at Jaffa because,

'Napolean's sense of history encouraged him to emulate the ancients in mounting expeditions to Palestine, Egypt and North Africa, as the Romans had done before, to conquer civilizations which were not European.'

Compared to the contemporary war scenes of Goya, they are glamorous lies, but they are painted with such dramatic skill and panache that they cannot but be admired on their own terms.

He was made baron by Charles X in 1824. During his later years his davidien ideas were increasingly criticized and his unhappiness led him to take his own life, by drowning in the Seine,on June 26, 1835.


Lometa. "Artists and Art in the Classroom" Tucson, Arizona.
1994. (Lecture presented at St Joseph's Catholic School.)

Justus, Kevin. "Art and Culture II." Tucson , Arizona.
1992. (Lecture presented at Pima Community College.)

De La Croix, Horst, Richard D. Tansey, and Diane Kirkpatrick.
Art Through the Ages. University of Michigan: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

Painted Heroes:

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