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

Portrait of Antoine-Laurent and Marie-Anne Lavoisier

Oil on canvas, 256 x 195 cm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

This portrait was probably commissioned through Madame Lavoisier, herself a painter and an ex-pupil of David. She is of at least equal importance with her husband in the composition, which celebrates the marriage of their minds through careful natural gestures and the recording of the chemical apparatus in which both were deeply interested.

Lavoisier was an eminent experimental physicist and chemist, a very wealthy tax farmer (an investor in a company hired by the government to collect duties on commodities - something for which he was later guillotined) and a member of the liberal intellectual élite that advocated moderate reforms.