Born in a rich family of cloth merchants in Grenoble, he became a lawyer for the local parlement in 1774. Ten years later, he purchased the title of Trésorier de France, which gave him a title in the French nobility, for 200,000 livres.
In 1790, Amar was elected vice-president of the Grenoble directory, and became a deputy to the National Convention for the département of Isère, and joined The Mountain, voting in favor of Louis XVI's execution during his trial.
Sent on mission with Jean-Marie-François Merlino to Ain and Isère in early 1793), he oversaw the levée en masse of 300,000 soldiers brought about by the outbreak of the French Revolutionary Wars and he made widespread arrests of "counter-revolutionaries". Amar entered the Committee of General Security after the events of June 2, 1793 (on June 16), and was, with Marc-Guillaume Alexis Vadier, one of its most influential members. He was noted for his attacks on the Girondists and his order to arrest the deputies who had protested against the violence of The Mountain.
He followed this with his involvement in the downfall of the partisans of Georges Danton (the Indulgants) and the Hébertists in 1794. However, Amar grew wary of Maximilien Robespierre and the Reign of Terror, and was involved in the Thermidorian Reaction from its very beginning.
Arrested himself as a former partisan of Terror (April 2, 1795), he benefitted from an amnesty on October 26. Amar then opposed the establishment of the French Directory in November, and took part in the conspiracy of Gracchus Babeuf early in 1796; tried by the Court in Vendôme, he was acquitted on May 26.
- Albert Soboul, Dictionnaire historique de la Révolution française, PUF 1989.
- Jean Tulard, Jean-François Fayard et Alfred Fierro, Histoire et dictionnaire de la Révolution française. 1789-1799, éd. Robert Laffont, coll. « Bouquins », Paris, 1987,1998 [détail de l’édition]
- Archives parlementaires de 1787 à 1860: recueil complet des débats législatifs et politiques des Chambres françaises. First series, 1787 à 1799. Tomes LV, LVI, LVII, LX, LXI, LXII, LXV, LXVI, LXIX, LXX et LXXI.
- Documents historiques sur les origines de la Révolution dauphinoise de 1788 Grenoble, 1888, p. 76-90 for relation to Freemasony.