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Antoine-Jean Gros

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Baron Antoine-Jean Gros (March 16, 1771 - June 25, 1835), French painter, was born at Paris.

His father, who was a miniature painter, began to teach him to draw at the age of six, and showed himself from the first an exacting master. Towards the close of 1785 Gros, by his own choice, entered the studio of Jacques-Louis David, which he frequented assiduously, continuing at the same time to follow the classes of the Collège Mazarin.

The death of his father, whose circumstances had been embarrassed by the French Revolution, threw Gros, in 1791, upon his own resources. He now devoted himself wholly to his profession, and competed (unsuccessfully) in 1792 for the grand prix. About this time, however, on the recommendation of the École des Beaux Arts, he was employed on the execution of portraits of the members of the National Convention, and when disturbed by the development of the Revolution, Gros in 1793 left France for Italy, he supported himself at Genoa by the same means, producing a great quantity of miniatures and fixes. He visited Florence, but returning to Genoa made the acquaintance of Joséphine de Beauharnais, and followed her to Milan, where he was well received by her husband, Napoleon Bonaparte.

On November 15, 1796, Gros was present with the army near Arcola when Bonaparte planted the French tricolor on the bridge. Gros seized on this incident, and showed by his treatment of it that he had found his vocation. Bonaparte at once gave him the post of inspecteur aux revues, which enabled him to follow the army, and in 1797 nominated him on the commission charged to select the spoils which should enrich the Louvre.


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