DAVID, Jacques-Louis
(b. 1748, Paris, d. 1825, Bruxelles)

The Oath of the Horatii (detail)

1784
Oil on canvas
Musée du Louvre, Paris

The Oath of the Horatii proved to be a triumph for David. The public was overwhelmed by his break with the Baroque stylistic tradition. For the first time, the unity of time and action had been brought into a deliberately severe composition. The story of the passionate readiness of these heroes for self-sacrifice was known, and it was also recognized that the weeping women in the composition are an expression of foreboding, symbols of the tragedy to come.