The Chief of the Mamelukes on Horseback

About Antoine-Jean Gros

An influential Romantic painter who made a considerable contribution to the mythology surrounding Napoleon, Antoine-Jean Gros is best known for historical works depicting events in the French revolutionary’s military campaigns. First trained under his father (a painter of miniatures), Gros began work in the studio of his friend Jacques-Louis David in 1785, though David’s restrained Neoclassicism was at odds with Gros’s artistic impulses. In 1793 Gros traveled to northern Italy, where he studied the work of Peter Paul Rubens and the Venetian School, artists whose energetic and vibrant styles were more aligned with his own work. After meeting his hero, Napoleon, Gros joined his army on campaigns and, given the rank of inspecteur aux revues, rendered events in an idealized and dramatic style that would later influence the works of Théodore Géricault and Eugène Delacroix. After the fall of Napoleon, David was forced into exile and Gros became the head of his studio. His work deteriorated and, mired in a sense of failure, Gros eventually committed suicide.

French, 1771-1835