by Anne-Louis Girodet de Roussy-Trioson
This person is associated with: Neoclassicism
French neoclassical painter.
He learned painting with David from 1784 onwards. Like his master, he failed three times at the Prix de Rome before winning it at the fourth try. In 1786, his Coriolan Leaving his Family to go into Exile received good critics, but the prize was cancelled since all the contesters came from David's workshop and their pieces were judged too similar. In 1787, his Nabuchodonosor Has Zedekiah's Children Killed before his Eyes was disqualified because he had brought some sketches outside the exam room (the prize was attributed to Fabre who had denounced him). He finished second in 1788 for The Death of Tatius (attributed to Garnier). Finally, Girodet won the contest in 1789 for Joseph Recognized by his Brothers (against Gérard). He went to Rome with Meynier who won the prize for 1786, which had been set again in 1789.
He was forced to move out of Rome in 1793 because of the war, and spent some time in several Italian cities, painting some landscapes - like Gauffier.
At his return in France in 1795, he became a prominent exponent in the Salon and appeared to be the only painter able to challenge David - the Neoclassical giant. This impression became true in 1810 when Girodet won the Decennial Prize - a special prize created by the Emperor - for his Scene of the Flood, beating David's Intervention of the Sabine women.
He nevertheless slowed his production after 1812 as he inherited of a considerable wealth; he still made several decorations in the Castle of Compiègne at the end of the Empire.
His style foreshadowed Romanticism as he painted with emotion and sensuality, like in his Atalia or Endemyion, or in his famous portrait of Chateaubriand. Since his death, many art historians and critics have said Girodet was gay, as his works frequently focus on male nudity, with some androgynous models, whereas the neoclassical rule was to paint muscular warriors.
A museum is specially dedicated to his oeuvre in his birth town of Montargis.