François Gerard (François Gerard)

François Gerard

Artist. The son of a French father and Italian mother, he is best remembered for his portraits, especially of Napoleon Bonaparte, Empress Josephine, and other family members. Born in Rome, Italy, his father was employed in the home of the French ambassador. When he was 12 years old, he was admitted into the Pension du Roi in Paris, France, followed by instruction under French artists Augustin Pajou, Nicolas-Guy Brenet, and Jacques-Louis David. In 1789 he competed for Prix de Rome scholarship but did not win. The following year, he competed again but his father’s death prevented him from finishing his entry in time. Poor and without any means of support, he returned to Paris and with the assistance of David, he embarked on painting portraits and became quite successful. In 1793 he assisted David with his famous portrait of Louis-Michel Le Pettetier de St. Fargeau. In 1799 his portrait of Madame Mere, the mother of Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, established him as one of the great portrait painters of the day. His other notable works include “Cupid and Psyche” (1798), “Napoleon at the Battle of Austerlitz” (1810), “Entry of Henry IV into Paris” (1817), “Daphnis and Chloe” (1824), “The Coronation of Charles X” (1827),and “Saint Theresa of Avila” (1827). His honors include Baron of the Empire (1809), member of the Institut de France (1812), and officer of the French Legion of Honor. He died in Paris, France following a fever at the age of 66. (bio by: William Bjornstad)


  • May, 04, 1770
  • Italy


  • January, 01, 1837
  • France


  • Cimetière de Montparnasse
  • France

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