Jacques-Louis David & The French Revolution

Jacques-Louis David (1748 - 1825, pronounced Jhak-Lwe Dah-Veed) was the painter par excellence of the French Revolutionary era. His neoclassical style is accessible to students, making him an ideal vehicle for studying the shifting currents of the revolutionary era in France. David was also a member of the National Convention and voted for the death of Louis XVI. Later, he became Napoleon's court painter. Through David's works, you can follow the course of the revolution in France.

Using the chronology of the Revolution listed below, explain how the political events of the period are demonstrated in the various works of David.

Chronology of the French Revolution




Financial crises, aristocratic resurgence, failing harvests, riots


Estates General meets (5 May)

Tennis Court oath (20 June)

Bastille stormed (14 July)

Declaration of Rights of Man and Citizen (26 August)

March to Versailles (5-6 October)


New constitution proclaimed (3 September)


War of First Coalition begins (April)

September massacres

National Convention (20 September to 1795)


Reign of Terror


Constitution of Year III (22 August)

Directory established


Coup d'etat of Brumaire brings Napoleon Bonaparte to power (9 November)

Constitution of Year VIII


Napoleon I proclaimed emperor of the French (18 May)


Defeated by allies, Napoleon abdicates (11 April) and is exiled to Elba


Napoleon returns (20 March)

Defeated at Waterloo

Exiled to St. Helena

Bourbon monarchy restored (Louis XVIII)

The Oath of the Horatii (1784)
The Death of Socarates (1787)
The Lictors Bring Brutus the Bodies of His Sons (1789)
The Tennis Court Oath [sketch] (1791)
The Death of Marat (1793)
The Sabine Women (1796-1799)
Bonaparte [unfinished] (1798)
Napoleon at St. Bernard [Napoleon Crossing the Alps] (1800)
Consecration of the Emperor Napoleon I and Coronation of Empress Josephine in the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris on 2 December 1804 (1804)
Countess Daru (1810)
Napoleon in His Study (1812)
Count de Turenne (1816)
Telemachus and Eucharis (1818)

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