After the French Revolution toppled Louis XVI from the throne, ending the ancien régime, Napoleon Bonaparte crowned himself Emperor, inaugurating a new monarchy in France. The artists represented in this room were connected to Emperor Napoleon and advanced a neoclassical style in line with his ambitions to present himself and his circle in the legacy of classical antiquity. The portraits by Gérard and Chinard here are prime examples of this.
As First Painter to the emperor, David produced propagandistic portraits of Napoleon and his regime; here, his intimate, personal portrayal of Alexandrine, Comtesse Daru, is an exception to this and was made by the artist as a personal gift of thanks. David’s most prominent pupil, Ingres, painted his portrait of Louise, Comtesse d’Haussonville some thirty years later, in the early 1840s, creating what has since become one of the most beloved and iconic portraits in the Frick’s collection.