Gros, Antoine-Jean (1771-1835). French painter. He trained with
his father, a miniaturist and then with Jacques-Louis
David. Although he revered David and became one of his favorite pupils,
Gros had a passionate nature and he was drawn more to the color and vibrancy
of Rubens and the great Venetian painters than
to the Neoclassical purity of his master.
In 1793 Gros went to Italy, where he met Napoleon and was appointed
his official battle painter. He followed Napoleon on his campaigns, and
his huge paintings such as The Battle of Eylau (Louvre, Paris, 1808)
are among the most stirring images of the Napoleonic era. Compared to the
contemporary war scenes of Goya, they are glamorous
lies, but they are painted with such dramatic skill and panache that they
cannot but be admired on their own terms.
When David went into exile after the fall of Napoleon, Gros took over
his studio, and tried to work in a more consciously Neoclassical style.
He never again approached the quality of his Napoleonic pictures, however
(although he painted excellent portraits), and haunted by a sense of failure
he drowned himself in the Seine.
Gros is regarded as one of the leading figures in the development of
the color and drama of his work
and his pupil Bonington amongst others.