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Jean-Baptiste Wicar | by Itinerant Wanderer
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Jean-Baptiste Wicar

Self-Portrait (1796) by Jean-Baptiste Wicar.


Wicar was briefly imprisoned for siding with the most radical and violent faction of the French Revolution alongside his mentor, Jacques-Louis David. After his pardon, Wicar went to Italy. It is likely he painted this self-portrait there in 1796, the year Napoleon conquered Italy and hired Wicar to select antiquities and Renaissance masterpieces there for transport to the Louvre. He portrays himself naturalistically rather than as a noble figure, demonstrating the growing preference in post-revolutionary France for realism and everyday subject matter. In this way, the painting reflects the beginnings of the marked shift away from traditional or romanticized styles in European art.


Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton, New Jersey.

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Taken on March 26, 2011