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Drouais, Jean Germain

DROUAIS, JEAN GERMAIN (1763-1788), French historical painter, was born at Paris on the 25th of November 1763. His father, François Hubert Drouais, and his grandfather, Hubert Drouais, were well-known portrait painters; and it was from his father that he received his first artistic instruction. He was afterwards entrusted to the care of Brenet, an excellent teacher, though his own pictures did not take high rank. In 1780 David, who had just returned from Rome, opened a school of painting in Paris, and Drouais was one of his earliest and most promising pupils. He adopted the classical style of his master, and gave his whole time to study - painting during the day, and spending a great part of every night in designing. For weeks together it is said that he never left his studio. In 1783 he was admitted to compete for the great prize of painting offered by the Academy, the subject being the "Widow of Nain." After inspecting the works of his fellow-competitors, however, he lost hope and destroyed his own canvas, but was consoled by the assurance of his master David that had he not done so he would have won the prize. Next year he was triumphantly successful, the "Woman of Canaan at the Feet of Christ," with which he gained the prize, being compared by competent critics with the works of Poussin. He was carried shoulder high by his fellow-students through the streets to his mother's house, and a place was afterwards found for his picture in the Louvre. His success making him only the more eager to perfect himself in his art, he accompanied David to Rome, where he worked even more assiduously than in Paris. He was most strongly influenced by the remains of ancient art and by the works of Raphael. Goethe, who was at Rome at the time it was finished, has recorded the deep impression made by his "Marius at Minturno," which he characterizes as in some respects superior to the work of David, his master. The last picture which he completed was his "Philoctetus on the Island of Lemnos." He died on the 15th of July 1788. A monument to his memory was erected by his fellow-students in the church of Santa Maria in the Via Lata.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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