Jacques-Louis David

Awful person, signed hundreds of death warrants
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Francisco Serrador

Contributor

Born rich, and married even richer, Jacques-Louis David lived a pretty suspenseful life.

First off, his dear old dad was killed in a duel.  He himself got into a sword fight and got sliced in the mouth. Apples and trees, right? He survived, but a tumor grew where the wound healed. It was benign, but got him got him the unfortunate nickname "David of the Tumor" and caused him to suffer from a major speech impediment (a big deal for an opinionated and argumentative Frenchman with a reputation for arrogance). And I mean arrogant. Once, when he failed to win an art prize that he had set his heart on, he tried to starve himself to death.

Fittingly, douche-y David became a close personal friend of one of history's greatest a-holes, Robespierre. After sending over 40,000 people to the guillotine during "the terror", Robespierre got a taste of his own medicine, and had his own head chopped off. David wasn't much better, as a member of the French revolutionary government he signed the death warrants of at least 300 people, including both Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. He then made a sketch of Marie Antoinette on her way to the guillotine! His nickname in government was "the ferocious terrorist," which I guess is better than David of the Tumor but not by much.

Amazingly, he merely went to jail after the revolution and further survived to become court painter to Napoleon. This in spite of the fact that he had been one of the people who signed the death warrant of the father of Napoleon's wife Josephine. He was exiled when Napoleon fell, and at the ripe old age of 77, in what is perhaps the most anticlimactic event in history, he got run over by a carriage and died. The French refused to let his body be buried in France, so it lies in Brussels. However, someone trying to maintain an exciting story line carved out his heart and buried it separate from his body at a cemetary in Paris.

Jacques-Louis David is mentioned on Sartle Blog -