DROUAIS, Jean-Germain
(b. 1763, Paris, d. 1788, Roma)

Marius at Minturnae

Oil on canvas, 271 x 365 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris

Jean-Germain Drouais, the son of François-Hubert Drouais, was the most promising Neoclassical history painter in the first generation of Jacques-Louis David's pupils, but he died young. Had he lived longer, he might have become the true challenger of his beloved master. temperamental as well as gifted, Drouais was far quicker to forge a style like a weapon, hard, spare and sharp. What Drouais could achieve is summed up in Marius at Minturnae, painted in Rome in 1786. The Académie refused to accept this as Drouais' posthumous 'agrégation' piece, ostensibly because it had been painted abroad - despite pleas by his fellow-students. Thus it never appeared at a Salon and entered the Louvre only in the reign of Louis XVIII.

The painting represents the first flowering of the mature Davidian school. This dramatic and powerful work shows Marius turning back the Cimbrian soldier sent to kill him by the sheer force of his will.