The vast majority of the works of the neoclassical painterJacques Louis Davidcan be found inFrance, a country where he triumphed as an artist and even as a political reference in the years between the 18th and 19th centuries. So this work in the custody of the National Gallery in London is one of the few exceptions.
Jacobus Blauw by Jacques Louis David
The truth is that David became famous for his grandiose compositions set in the episodes of his beloved French Revolution and in the subsequent period of theEmpire of Napoleon Bonaparte. However, from a creative and innovative point of view, the most intimate portraits that he made of some relevant characters of his time are also very outstanding. And this section is where that effigy ofJacobus Blauwthat he made in 1795 comes in.
These are works in which he is able to play with the discretion typical ofneoclassical artand mix it with greater dynamism and lyricism, somewhat removed from the more serious and official compositions.
The subject was a Dutch patriot who came to Paris in 1795 to negotiate a peace treaty with France. And he took advantage of the occasion to commission a portrait from the most sought-after painter of the time.
him He has himself painted as a statesman, a character who is drafting an official document, which allows the painter to create a verystrict based on horizontals like those of the table, the paper or the forearm, verticals like the buttons and the cut of the jacket, and diagonals to create a triangle with the body of the character, the typical pyramidal composition.
All very strict and serious as it seems to follow from the ideals of Neoclassicism. But David removes coldness from all this with the detail of making the politician raise his head. He lifts his head as if surprised or like he's looking for inspiration, and that's whenDavidpretends to take a snapshot of him. That detail gives life to the work. Plus he lets us see Blauw's face
He has managed to combine the stability of his posture with that movement, and even with the simple gesture of not looking at us, of having his gaze lost, focused on other matters, he seems to convey to us the uneasiness about the situation he is experiencing, since after all, he tries to negotiate peace with the country that has invaded his land. David manifests himself as a great portraitist, not only knows how to capture the physical similarity, but also captures the personality of the sitter, whom he dresses simply, without the pompousness of the aristocracy, which the painter and the painted despise so much.