19th century - early 20th century - Neoclassical Legacy
Hennequin, Ingres, Langlois, Gros, all pupils of David, illustrate particularly well the permanence of neoclassical style in the painting of the first 19th century. Permanence but also extraordinary vitality, as David's influence persisted, stronger than ever after 1815 and the exile imposed by Louis XVIII on the leader of the French school, an ex-conventional, placed on the blacklist of regicides.
If David continued to govern the arts from exile and until his death in 1825, it was largely due to his pupils. No fewer than two hundred artists pass through his workshop – headed by Gros from 1815 onwards – and spread the influence of their master throughout Europe.
Ingres' Tu Marcellus Eris (1811-1820), like Alexander's Generosity (1819) by Langlois are products of the purest davidian tradition. They illustrate classical literary subjects, veritable examples of virtues while their style is infused with the "noble simplicity and serene grandeur" evoked by Winkelmann.
Philippe-Auguste HENNEQUIN (Lyon, 1762 - Leuze près Tournai, 1833),
Bataille de Quiberon,
Inv. 2004 1 62
Photo : Daniel Martin
Hennequin's Battle of Quiberon for its part, turns to the revolutionary Iliad and the imperial Odyssey. The first commission from Napoleon to the artist, the piece gives the viewer an idea of the confrontation which opposed royalists and republicans in 1794, in a style similar to that of Gros.
Gros, who despite coming close to a certain romanticism in his battles, attempts in his final work (Hercules and Diomedes, 1835) to firmly re-impose David's style. Critics see it as a failure, the artist, abandoned by his pupils, prey to personal difficulties, commits suicide.