Jacques-Louis David, a prominent artist born in Paris in 1748, was known for his dramatic canvasses of historical figures, including Napoleon. In 1795, he painted a portrait of Monsieur Seriziat, an elegant and wealthy Frenchman. The painting depicted Monsieur Seriziat seated outdoors on a rock. He appeared to be relaxed and comfortable in his surroundings.
David’s portrait of Monsieur Seriziat was part of a pair of portraits which also included a depiction of Seriziat’s wife Emilie. Both portraits were painted during the period when France was transitioning from the Reign of Terror to the Directory. Through formal elements like the use of line and color, David gave Madame Lavoisier (Emilie) particular authority without compromising her femininity, indicating a shift in gender roles.
One interesting fact about this portrait is that David was related to the Seriziat family through marriage, with Marguerite Charlotte Pécoul (David’s wife) and Emilie Pécoul (Seriziat’s wife) being sisters. As such, it is possible that this connection influenced his composition choices or contributed to his understanding of Monsieur Seriziat’s character.
Overall, Jacques-Louis David’s portrait presents an elegant image of Monsieur Seriziat as an affluent man who is at ease in nature while capturing some cultural shifts that occurred during this period in French history.