Anne-Louis Girodet de Roussy-Trioson was born in a commune called Montargis on the Loing River in France, in January 1767. He became an orphan as a teen and was adopted by Benoit-François Trioson, who became his guardian and friend. Girodet studied under one of the greatest Neo-Classical painters Jacque-Louis David and became famous for his Romanticist artworks.
As a young man, Girodet devoted himself to starting a military career and studied architecture as well. It wasn’t long before he found his passion for painting, and soon became Jacques-Louis David’s apprentice. He won the highly disputed Grand Prix de Rome at the age of twenty-two, an art scholarship. Although Girodet was Academically trained in the Neo-Classical style, the early Romanticist movement would impact his artwork.
The painter lived in Rome in 1789, and during this period he produced masterpieces like The Sleep of Endymion and Hippocrates Refusing the Gifts of Artaxerxes, both housed at the Louvre Museum. These mythological portrayals marked the beginning of his career, and he became quickly known as the leading French painter of his time. The masterpieces are seen by historians as his initial reaction to Romanticism, not because of the subject, but by his use of lighting and theatricality.
The artist returned to France in 1793 and focused on producing portraits, many of Napoleon Bonaparte and his family. He continued working with a unique mixture of Romantic and Classic elements in his paintings. In 1799, Girodet painted Mademoiselle Lange as Danae, a beautiful example of this merge of different artistic influences. Another noteworthy painting is Malwine Dying in the Arms of Fingal, a piece commissioned by Napoleon around 1802.
Anne-Louis Girodet-Trioson had a prolific career as a painter and teacher. He became a member of the Institut de France and the Academy of Painting and Sculpture. The artist was also knighted to the Order of Saint Michael and served as an officer in the highest French military and civil order, the Legion of Honour. He had many notable students, like François-Edouard Bertin, Eugene-Francois-Marie-Joseph Deveria, Achille-Jacques-Jean-Marie Deveria, Paul-Emile Destouches, Alexander-Marie Colin, Henri Decaisne, Joseph-Nicolas Robert-Fleury, and Philippe Jacques Van Bree, among countless others.
The artist’s health began to decline after the first decade of the 1800s, which reflected in the quantity of his work. Anne-Louis Girodet de Roussy-Trioson passed away in December 1824, the same year in which he concluded important portraits of Revolutionaries Jacques Cathelineau and Charles Artus de Bonchamps.