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The Prisoner

Jacques Louis David French

Not on view

The drawings David made during his exile in Brussels are often self-referential, containing echoes of figures and themes from earlier periods of his career. This cropped male figure, gazing out with a troubled expression, is a near repetition of a turbaned plague victim in the foreground of an altarpiece painted at the outset of David’s career, for a hospital chapel in Marseille. With a spare, shallow setting and a few accessories, his role has been transformed into that of a prisoner.

The motif of the noble prisoner runs throughout David’s body of work, from The Death of Socrates that hung at the Salon of 1787 to the portraits he drew of fellow former deputies during his own imprisonment in 1795.

The Prisoner, Jacques Louis David (French, Paris 1748–1825 Brussels), Black chalk

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