One of the most celebrated portraits by Jacques-Louis David is his 1783 painting of Alphonse Leroy. The portrait depicts Leroy, a doctor and man-midwife, leaning on a closed copy of Hippocrates’ Morbi mulierum while looking directly at the viewer. The composition uses a specific type of portrait category, where the model is essentially shown ‘at work.’ It’s widely recognized as one of David’s greatest portraits.
Jacques-Louis David was among the finest portrait artists in the entire 18th century. In 1783 Salon, he presented two pieces, including Alphonse Leroy’s painting. Notably, Leroy attended Madame David when she gave birth to her first child. Hence David had an excellent opportunity to scrutinize and comprehend his subject matter: doctoring and parturition were fascinating topics during this period.
Today, Portrait of Alphonse Leroy is located in Montpellier’s Musée Fabre: among its most notable works exhibited there. Besides its historic importance as an iconic representation of midwifery practices from that era, it is also essential as a sample gathering some artistic techniques peculiar to Neoclassicism Painting or French academic art in general.