Antoine-Jean Gros

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Antoine-Jean Gros
Gros at age 20; portrait by François Gérard, c. 1791
Born16 March 1771 (1771-03-16)
Died25 June 1835 (1835-06-26) (aged 64)
near Meudon, France
Resting placePère Lachaise Cemetery
EducationCollège Mazarin
Known forPainting

Antoine-Jean Gros (French pronunciation: [ɑ̃twanʒɑ̃ gʁo]; 16 March 1771 – 25 June 1835) was a French painter of historical subjects. He was given the title of Baron Gros in 1824.[1][2]

Gros studied under Jacques-Louis David in Paris and began an independent artistic career during the French Revolution. Forced to leave France, Gros moved to Genoa. His portrait of the French commander Napoleon Bonaparte at the Battle of Arcole (1796) brought Gros to public attention and gained the patronage of Napoleon.[3][4]

After traveling with Napoleon's army for several years, he returned to Paris in 1799. In addition to producing several large paintings of battles and other events in Napoleon's life, Gros was a successful portraitist.

Early life and training[edit]

Equestrian portrait of prince Boris Yusupov, 1809

Born in Paris, Gros began to learn to draw at the age of six from his father, Jean-Antoine Gros,[5] who was a miniature painter, and showed himself as a gifted artist. His mother, Pierrette-Madeleine-Cécile Durand, was also a painter.[6] Towards the close of 1785, Gros, by his own choice, entered the studio of Jacques-Louis David, which he frequented assiduously, continuing at the same time to follow the classes of the Collège Mazarin.[7]

The death of his father, whose circumstances had been embarrassed by the French Revolution, threw Gros upon his own resources in 1791. He now devoted himself wholly to his profession, and he competed (unsuccessfully) in 1792 for the grand prix. Around this time, however, on the recommendation of the École des Beaux Arts, he painted portraits of the members of the National Convention, but as the Revolution developed, Gros left France in 1793 for Italy.[7]

Genoa and Bonaparte[edit]

Bonaparte at the pont d'Arcole, 1796

Gros supported himself in Genoa as a portraitist. He visited Florence, and returned to Genoa where he met Joséphine de Beauharnais. Following her to Milan, Gros was well received by her husband, Napoleon Bonaparte.[7]

After Gros painted the scene, Bonaparte at the pont d'Arcole, Bonaparte gave him the post of inspecteur aux revues, which allowed Gros to follow the army. In 1797, Gros was charged with selecting the spoils for the Louvre.[7]


Battle of Abukir, 25 juillet 1799, 1806

In 1799, Gros left Genoa and made his way to Paris. In the beginning of 1801, he took up his quarters in the Capucins. His study for the painting of the Battle of Nazareth, now in the Musée d'Arts de Nantes, gained the prize offered in 1802 by the consuls, but the project was not carried out, owing, it is said,[8] to Napoleon's jealousy of Jean-Andoche Junot, the general in the painting. Gros was commissioned to paint Bonaparte Visiting the Plague Victims of Jaffa, which is now in the Louvre. This was followed in 1806 by Gros's Bataille d’Aboukir, 25 Juillet 1799 (Joachim Murat at the Battle of Abukir) now at Versailles;[9] and in 1808 by his Napoléon sur le champ de bataille d'Eylau, le 9 février 1807 (Napoleon at the battlefield after the Battle of Eylau) now in the Louvre.[10][11]

Salon of 1804[edit]

Napoleon Visiting the Plague Victims of Jaffa, 1804
Napoleon at the Pyramids in 1798, 1810
Lieutenant Charles Legrand, c. 1810

At the Salon of 1804, Gros debuted his painting Bonaparte Visiting the Plague Victims of Jaffa. The painting launched his career as a successful painter. It depicts Bonaparte in Jaffa visiting soldiers infected with the bubonic plague. He is portrayed reaching out to one of the sick, unfazed by the illness. According to P. Jill Morse, Napoleon commissioned Gros to paint the scene to neutralize British propaganda. The propaganda focused on two episodes of the Egyptian campaign (1798-1800). First when he ordered the massacre of Turkish prisoners. Second, when he ordered the death by poison of French soldiers suffering from the plague. The painting showed a compassionate Napoleon visiting the sick at the plague hospital. Morse adds that Gros was probably using the disease as a metaphor for the vanity of Napoleon and his First Empire.[12]

While Bonaparte did actually visit the pesthouse, later, as his army prepared to withdraw from Syria, he ordered the poisoning (with laudanum) of about fifty of his plague-infected men.[13]

Later life and death[edit]

In 1810, his Madrid and Napoleon at the Pyramids (Versailles) show that Napoleon had deserted him. His Francis I and Charles V, 1812 (Louvre), had considerable success.


Gros was made a member of the Legion of Honour on 22 October 1808 by Napoleon,[14] after the Salon of 1808, where he had exhibited the Battle of Eylau.[11] Gros had many pupils and gained considerably more when David left Paris in 1815.[7]

Under the Bourbon Restoration, Gros became a member of the Académie des Beaux-Arts,[15] a professor at the École des Beaux-Arts, and a member of the Order of Saint Michael.[citation needed] He was granted the title of baron in 1824 by King Charles X of France.[1]

Gros inspired Eugène Delacroix, especially with his work in lithography. The two both worked in the same time period, and both did portraits of Napoleon. However, at one point, Gros had referred to Delacroix's Chios and Missolonghi as "a massacre of art".[citation needed]

G. Dargenty produced a book on the subject titled: Les Artistes célèbres. Le Bon Gros (1887).[16]

M. Delcluze gave a brief notice of his life in Louis David et son temps ("Louis David and his times"), and Julius Meyer's Geschichte der modernen französischen Malerei ("History of Modern French Painting") contains what Britannica cites as an excellent criticism on his works.[7]


Image Title Date Dimensions Collection
Autoportrait 1795 Palace of Versailles
Madame Pasteur 1795–1796 The Louvre
Portrait of Madame Bruyere 1796 79 × 65 cm Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery
Bonaparte at the Pont d'Arcole 1796 130 × 94 cm Palace of Versailles
The Death of Timophanes 1798 44.4 × 57.6 cm The Louvre
Portrait of Christine Boyer c. 1800 214 × 134 cm The Louvre
The Battle of Nazareth 1801 136.1 x 196.4 cm Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nantes
Sappho at Leucate 1801 122 × 100 cm Musée Baron Gérard, Bayeux
First Consul Bonaparte 1802 205 × 127 cm Musée de la Légion d'honneur
Bonaparte Visiting the Plague Victims of Jaffa 1804 715 × 523 cm The Louvre
Gérard-Christophe-Michel Duroc, duc de Frioul (1772–1813) 1805 218 × 142 cm Palace of Versailles
Battle of Aboukir, 25 July 1799 1806 578 × 968 cm Palace of Versailles
Battle of Eylau, 9 February 1807 1807 104.9 × 145.1 cm The Louvre
Impératrice Joséphine 1808 Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nice
Portrait of the French composer Pierre Zimmermann 1808 118.5 × 91 cm Palace of Versailles
Equestrian portrait of Jérôme Bonaparte c. 1808 321 × 265 cm Palace of Versailles
Equestrian portrait of Prince Boris Yusupov 1809 321 × 266 cm Pushkin Museum
Battle of the Pyramids 1810 389 × 311 cm Palace of Versailles
Napoleon accepts the surrender of Madrid, 4 December 1808 1810 361 × 500 cm Musée de l'Histoire de France (Versailles)
The Horse of Mustapha Pasha c. 1810 89 × 175 cm Musée des Beaux-Arts et d'archéologie de Besançon
Portrait of General Claude Legrand c. 1810 245 × 172 cm Palace of Versailles
Portrait of Second Lieutenant Charles Legrand c. 1810 249 × 162 cm Los Angeles County Museum of Art
The Apotheosis of Saint Genevieve 1811–1824 Panthéon de Paris
François I and Charles V Visiting the Church of Saint-Denis 1812 The Louvre
Equestrian portrait of Joachim Murat 1812 89 × 175 cm Musée des Beaux-Arts et d'archéologie de Besançon
General Baston de Lariboisière and his son Ferdinand c. 1815 Musée de l'Armée
Honoré-Charles Baston de Lariboisière 1815 73 × 59 cm Private collection
Departure of Louis XVIII from the Palace of the Tuileries on the Night of 20 March 1815 1817 405 × 525 cm Palace of Versailles
Embarkation of Madame d'Angoulême 1819 326 × 504 cm Musée des Beaux-Arts de Bordeaux
Count Jean-Antoine Chaptal 1824 Musée des Beaux-Arts de Bordeaux
Portrait of Madame Récamier 1825 62.3 × 51.2 cm Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts
The Genius of France Giving Life to the Arts and Protecting Humanity c. 1827 The Louvre
Hercules and Diomedes 1835 426 × 324 cm Musée des Augustins
Portrait of Pierre Daru 19th century 216 × 142 cm Palace of Versailles

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Antoine-Jean Gros | An Introduction to 19th Century Art". Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  2. ^ "Ministère de la culture – Baron Gros". Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  3. ^ Jordan, David P. (24 July 2012). Napoleon and the Revolution. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 153. ISBN 978-0-230-36281-9.
  4. ^ Gueniffey, Patrice (2015). Bonaparte: 1769–1802. Harvard University Press. p. 288. ISBN 978-0-674-36835-4.
  5. ^ "The Napoleon Series". Archived from the original on 30 March 2017. Retrieved 23 July 2016.
  6. ^ Profile of Pierrette-Madeleine-Cécile Durand Archived 10 August 2017 at the Wayback Machine at the Dictionary of Pastellists Before 1800.
  7. ^ a b c d e f  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Gros, Antoine Jean, Baron". Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 12 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 615.
  8. ^ Fontainas, André (1906). Histoire de la peinture française au XIXme siècle (1801-1900) (in French) (second ed.). Paris: Société du Mercure de France. p. 28. OCLC 431638175.
  9. ^ "Colonial History: The Battle of Aboukir". Art History for Filmmakers. 20 July 2020.
  10. ^ "Napoleon on the Battlefield of Eylau". Department of Paintings, The Louvre.
  11. ^ a b Prendergast, Christopher. (1997). Napoleon and History Painting: Antoine-Jean Gros's La Bataille d'Eylau. Oxford: Clarendon Press. ISBN 0-19-817402-0
  12. ^ P. Jill Morse, "The Medics in A. J. Gros's 'Bonaparte At The Pest House At Jaffa.'" Consortium on Revolutionary Europe 1750-1850: Selected Papers (2000), pp 147–164.
  13. ^ Peterson, Robert K. D.; "Insects, Disease, and Military History: The Napoleonic Campaigns and Historical Perception"; American Entomologist 41:147–160. (1995) "Plague and the Syrian Campaign". Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 26 March 2015. retvd 3 26 15
  14. ^ "Ministère de la culture – Base Léonore". Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  15. ^ "Ministère de la culture". Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  16. ^ IdRef - Identifiants et Référentiels pour l'ESR. Archived 30 October 2022 at the Wayback Machine Detailed record: Notice bibliographique.


  • Chu, Petra ten-Doesschate. (2006). Nineteenth-Century European Art. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall. pp. 126–127. ISBN 0-13-188643-6

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