David owed his rise to fame - after many reversals - to a painting for the execution of which he took his family to Rome, in order to absorb himself totally in the world of antique forms. It was The Oath of the Horatii.
When he arrived to Rome, David rent a studio in the Via del Babuino. He worked in a very methodical manner on The Oath of the Horatii, drawing from life models and draped mannequins, and some very detailed studies survive for many of the main figures. He had accessories such as the swords and helmets made by local craftsmen so that they could serve as props. Drouais is supposed to have assisted David, painting the arm of the rear Horatii brother and the yellow garment of Sabina. The painting was finished at the end of July 1785, and was then exhibited in David's studio. David signed the painting and added the painting's place of origin to the signature and date: L David / faciebat / Romanae /Anno MDCCLXXXIV. The painting created a sensation, even the Pope wanted to view it.
The story is from the 7th century B.C., and it tells of the triplet sons of Publius Horatius, who decided the struggle between Rome and Albalonga. One survived, but he killed his own sister because she wept for one of the fallen foes, to whom she was betrothed. Condemned to death for the murder of a sibling, Horatius' son is pardoned by the will of the people.
Because of its austerity and depiction of dutiful patriotism, The Oath of the Horatii is often considered to be the clearest expression of Neoclassicism in painting. The painting's uncompromising directness, economy and tension made it instantly memorable and full of visual impact. Each of the three elements of the picture - the sons, the father and the women - is framed by a section of a Doric arcade, and the figures are located in a narrow stage-like space. David split the picture between the masculine resolve of the father and brothers and the slumped resignation of the women.. The focal point of the work is occupied by the swords that old Horatius is about to distribute to his sons. While the rear two brothers take the oath with their left hands, the foremost one swears with his right. Perhaps David did this simply as a way of grouping the figures together, but people at the time noticed this detail, and some supposed that this meant that the brother in the front would be the one to survive the combat.
This painting is Lautrec's last work. It was executed between the beginning of May and the end of July 1901, only a few months before his death. It shows his cousin Gabriel Tapié de Céleyran taking his viva voce for his degree in medicine, although Tapié had in fact already qualified in 1899.
The candidate is sitting on the far left, red-faced in front of his professors, like a delinquent before a tribunal. The dark, barely illuminated scene seems out of keeping with Lautrec, and is more reminiscent of Dutch portraits in the seventeenth-century Baroque style.
The picture shows a detail of the left wing, depicting the Rescue (after Fraenger).
In the foreground, the unconscious Anthony is carried across a bridge by two companions dressed in the habit of the Antonite Order, accompanied by a secular figure who has been identified with some plausibility as a self-portrait of Bosch.
In the centre of the composition is the Torre dell'Orologio (clocktower) which was designed by Mauro Codussi (1496-99). Above the clock face is a sculpture of the Madonna, and on the very top of the tower are the two bronze figures, called the 'Mori', which strike the hours. On the left of the painting is the Loggetta at the base of the Campanile and at the right the façade of San Marco.
The buildings are depicted accurately and in some considerable detail. Such precision contrasts with the liquid freedom of the application of paint used to place the cloud forms above. The figures in the foreground include oriental traders, shoppers, vagrants, servants, children and a youth who reclines nonchalantly in the sunshine.