National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION

Tour: 18th- and 19th-Century France — Neoclassicism

Overview | Start Tour

image of Madame Moitessier
« back to French and Italian painting of the 18th century


The French Revolution began in 1789, when citizens stormed the Bastille prison in Paris. Within a few years, France had adopted and overthrown several constitutions and executed its former king. It found itself at war with most of the Continent and endured horrible violence at home during the Reign of Terror. Finally, in 1799, the successful young general Napoleon Bonaparte seized control and, in 1804, proclaimed himself emperor. Though he made important administrative reforms, he was preoccupied by constant warfare and his heroic but failed attempt to unite all of Europe by conquest. After being defeated at Waterloo in 1815, Napoleon was exiled and the Bourbon monarchy was restored in the person of Louis XVIII.




1Jean-Antoine Houdon, Giuseppe Balsamo, Comte di Cagliostro, 1786
2Élisabeth-Louise Vigée Le Brun, The Marquise de Pezay, and the Marquise de Rougé with Her Sons Alexis and Adrien, 1787
3Jacques-Louis David, The Emperor Napoleon in His Study at the Tuileries, 1812
4Jacques-Louis David, Madame David, 1813
5Pierre Paul Prud'hon, David Johnston, 1808
6Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Pope Pius VII in the Sistine Chapel, 1814
7Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Madame Moitessier, 1851