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The Oath of the Horatii

Jacques Louis David French

Not on view

David often made oil sketches to work out the palette and tonal contrast before setting brush to canvas. These studies usually began as drawings on paper—indeed, the underlying pen and ink sketch is still visible here—before areas of color were blocked in with oil paint.

In this sketch we see the composition near its final form, with only the poses of certain figures still to be tweaked. The palette of the finished picture, however, would be considerably cooler, with different hues chosen for many of the costumes.

The Oath of the Horatii, Jacques Louis David (French, Paris 1748–1825 Brussels), Oil over pen and black ink, squared in black chalk, on paper laid down on canvas

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