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

Count Potocki

Oil on canvas, 304 x 218 cm
Muzeum Narodowe, Warsaw

David received a lucrative commission for a grand portrait of a Polish nobleman, Count Stanislas Potocki. Although begun in Rome, the painting was actually completed a little later in Paris.

Potocki came from one of the most celebrated Polish families, and had recently become very wealthy thanks to his wife's dowry. He was also a scholar, and translated and commented on the work of Winckelmann. Obviously his portrait had to be impressive and suggestive of his status. Therefore David depicted him on horseback, subduing a skittish horse with consummate ease. David turned to the example of the great Baroque portraitist Anthony van Dyck to create a work that was similar in scale and impact.

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