Jacques Louis David: Radical Draftsman will be the first exhibition devoted to works on paper by the celebrated French artist who navigated vast artistic and political divides throughout his life—from his birth in Paris in 1748 to his death in exile in Brussels in 1825. His iconic works captured the aspirations and suffering of a nation, while addressing timeless themes that continue to resonate today.
Through the lens of his preparatory studies, the exhibition looks beyond his public successes to chart the moments of inspiration and the progress of ideas. Visitors will follow the artist’s process as he gave form to the neoclassical style and created major canvases that shaped the public’s perceptions of historical events in the years before, during, and after the French Revolution.
Organized chronologically, the exhibition will feature more than eighty drawings and oil sketches—including rarely loaned or newly discovered works—drawn from the collections of The Met and dozens of institutional and private lenders.
Accompanied by a catalogue.
The exhibition is made possible by the Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw Charitable Trust.
Additional support is provided by the Margaret and Richard Riney Family Foundation and The Schiff Foundation.
The catalogue is made possible by the Drue E. Heinz Fund.
Additional support is provided by the Tavolozza Foundation and Hubert and Mireille Goldschmidt.
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Join Curator Perrin Stein for a virtual tour of Jacques Louis David: Radical Draftsman, the first exhibition devoted to works on paper by the celebrated French artist.
In Jacques Louis David’s The Death of Socrates (1787), a parable of principle on the eve of the French Revolution.
Technical examination of Jacques Louis David’s masterpiece reveals that the refinements seen in the artist’s preparatory drawings didn’t end when he began painting—rather, they continued through all stages of its execution.