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Jacques-Louis David was a highly influential French painter in the Neoclassical style, considered to be the preeminent painter of the era. David was an active supporter of the French Revolution and friend of Maximilien Robespierre, and was effectively a dictator of the arts under the French Republic. Imprisoned after Robespierre's fall from power, he aligned himself with yet another political regime upon his release, that of Napoleon.

It was at this time that he developed his Empire style, notable for its use of warm Venetian colours. David had a huge number of pupils, making him the strongest influence in French art of the early 19th century, especially academic Salon painting. His most famous work is most likely the epic painting Napoleon Crossing the Alps, which has since become an icon of the Napoleonic era.

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