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David, Marguerite-Charlotte

French, 1764 - 1826

Pécoul, Marguerite-Charlotte


Born Marguerite-Charlotte Pécoul in 1765, the daughter of Charles-Pierre Pécoul, a building contractor to the Crown. Jacques-Louis David met Pierre's son in Rome, where they became great friends; upon the artist's return to Paris in 1781, he met Marguerite-Charlotte. They were married on 16 May 1782 when he was 34 and she 17. The Davids had twin daughters, Laure-Emilie Félicité and Pauline-Jeanne, born in 1786, and two sons, Charles-Louis-Jules [1783-1854] and François-Eugene [1784-1831]. Mme David seems to have shared her husband's political sentiments early in their marriage, and she was one of a group of patriotic women who in 1789 ceremonially presented their jewels to the National Assembly as a gift to the national cause. But her husband's growing, and in the end fanatical, attachment to Ropespierre may have contributed to their estrangement, and after the execution of the king on 21 January 1793, Mme David left Paris and moved with her daughters to her father's estate at Saint-Ouen. A divorce decree dissolved the marriage on 16 March 1794. When, however, four months later, Robespierre was overthrown and David imprisoned as his accomplice, Mme David made continuous and desperate appeals to the authorities that succeeded in having him freed. The couple was reunited by a second marriage on 12 November 1796, and remained together for the rest of their lives. Mme David was a shrewd and parsimonious businesswoman, and is said to have kept a sharp eye on her husband's financial affairs. After Napoleon's second abdication in 1816, David was expelled from France as a regicide. Mme David followed him into exile in Brussels, and died there on 9 May 1826. (Eitner 2000, 208-212)


Eisler, Colin. Paintings from the Samuel H. Kress Collection: European Schools Excluding Italian. Oxford, 1977: 359
Jacques-Louis David, Musée du Louvre, Paris, 1989-1990, no. 213

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