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Charles David

French, 1797 - 1869

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Charles David was born in 1797 in Cadenet near Avignon (Vaucluse), the son of a goldsmith and musician. His younger brother, Félicien David (1810-1876), became well known in France as a composer of symphonies and operas. Charles followed a more modest career. After promising art studies at Avignon and Dijon, he enlisted in the army as a bandsman, participated in the French campaign in Spain of 1823, and ended his military service as trombonist in the regimental band of the Royal Cuirassiers. On returning to civilian life, he settled in Paris as a painter of landscapes, portraits, and miniatures. He had chosen to live at 9, quai d'Anjou, the building on the Ile Saint-Louis in which Honoré Daumier lived and worked in the 1840s and that had become a meeting place for artists and writers of the romantic generation. The subject of David's only known submission to a Paris Salon, View of the Ponds at Ville-d'Avray, exhibited in 1847, strongly suggests that he was acquainted with Camille Corot, Daumier's friend, who regularly worked at Ville-d'Avray. The Revolution of 1848 caused David to return to his native province. Earning his living as a painter of miniatures, he occasionally exhibited his larger portraits and landscapes at Aix and Avignon. By his eccentricities, his exuberant good humor, and his arcane studies of the mystery of perpetual motion, he achieved considerable local celebrity. Very little is now known of his work. He died in Avignon in 1869. [This is the artist's biography published in the NGA Systematic Catalogue]

Artist Bibliography

Boudin, Auguste. "Nécrologie de Charles David." Le Méridional (Avignon), 28 November 1869.
Eitner, Lorenz. French Paintings of the Nineteenth Century, Part I: Before Impressionism. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 2000: 191.

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