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Baron François-Pascal-Simon Gérard
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Gerard was one of the most accomplished students of JacquesLouis David to emerge during the 1790s. Best known for his portraits, he carried on the tenets of David's classical teaching into the 1830s. Gerard was born in Rome and spent his childhood in Italy where his father served as an administrator under the French ambassador to the Holy See. After his family returned to Paris, he apprenticed to the sculptor J.-B. Pajou and then the painter Nicholas-Guy Brenet before entering David's studio in 1786. Gerard took second place in the Prix de Rome of 1789 but did not compete further. Illustrations for works by ancient authors published by Didot Freres helped him support his family during the Revolution. He exhibited at the Salons of 1791 and 1793 but drew particular attention for his Belisarius at the Salon of 1795 and his portraits from the later 1790s. Napoleon confirmed his fame with commissions for official portraits and decorations on the theme of Ossian for his home at Malmaison, and there followed a series of large history paintings, such as the Battle of Austerlitz of 1810 (Chateau de Versailles). Commissions continued under Louis XV111, and his Henry IV Entering Paris (Chateau de Versailles) celebrated the Bourbon Restoration. Much honored and decorated, Gerard continued to paint until his death in 1837 although his work declined in quality after about 1830.