Accused by the Athenian government of denying the gods and corrupting the young through his teachings, Socrates (469–399 B.C.) was offered the choice of renouncing his beliefs or dying by drinking a cup of hemlock. David shows him prepared to die and discoursing on the immortality of the soul with his grief-stricken disciples.
Painted in 1787 the picture, with its stoic theme, is perhaps David's most perfect Neoclassical statement. The printmaker and publisher John Boydell wrote to Sir Joshua Reynolds that it was "the greatest effort of art since the Sistine Chapel and the stanze of Raphael."
The great history painter and portraitist Jacques Louis David was the pupil of Joseph Marie Vien (1716–1809) and then in 1766 entered the school of the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture. Having won the Prix de Rome in 1774, he traveled to Italy with Vien, an early exponent of neoclassicism and the newly appointed director of the French Academy there. In the Italian capital, David followed a traditional course, drawing from the antique, from models, and from nature, and studying contemporary and earlier painting. He made innumerable studies that attest to his passionate interest in antiquity and in the sculptural style of painting espoused in the seventeenth century by the Romanist Nicolas Poussin (1594–1665), whose successor he became.
David returned to Paris in 1780 and the next year was received as a candidate member of the Académie, presenting Belisarius Begging Alms (Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lille), a history painting praised for its nobility of spirit. His reception piece, submitted in 1783, was the starkly heroic Grieving Andromache (École Nationale Supérieur des Beaux-Arts, Paris). Moralizing themes were immensely popular in the tumultuous years preceding the French revolution and many painters essayed the death of Socrates, but none with the success of David. From its first exhibition at the Salon of 1787, the canvas has been admired for the clarity and force of its composition and the purity of its sentiment.
In 399 B.C., having been accused by the Athenian government of impiety and of corrupting young people with his teachings, the philosopher Socrates was tried, found guilty, and offered the choice of renouncing his beliefs or drinking the cup of hemlock. He died willingly for the principles he held dear. Here he gestures toward the cup, points toward the heavens, and discourses on the immortality of the soul. The picture, with its stoic theme, has been described as David’s most perfect neoclassical statement.
The artist consulted Plato’s Phaedo and a variety of sources including Diderot’s treatise on dramatic poetry and works by the poet André Chenier. The pose of Plato, the figure seated in profile at the foot of the bed (who was not actually present at the scene), was reportedly inspired by the English novelist Richardson. The printmaker and publisher John Boydell, writing to Sir Joshua Reynolds, called The Death of Socrates "the greatest effort of art since the Sistine Chapel and the stanze of Raphael," further observing that the painting "would have done honour to Athens at the time of Pericles." Two preparatory studies for the composition belong to The Met (61.161.1 and 2013.59).
[Katharine Baetjer 2013]
Inscription: Signed, dated, and inscribed: (lower left) L.D / MDCCLXXXVII; (right, on bench) L. David; (right, on bench, in Greek) Athenaion (of Athens)
Charles-Louis Trudaine de Montigny, Paris (1787–d. 1794); his widow, Louise Trudaine de Montigny, Paris (1794–d. 1802); her brother, M. Micault de Courbeton (1802–at least 1803); by descent to the marquis de Vérac (about 1818–at least 1846; on long-term loan to the Musée de Luxembourg, 1818?–?1864); marquise de Vérac (in 1864); her son-in-law, comte de Rouge (until 1872; his sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, April 8, 1872, no. 1, for Fr 17,600 to Bianchi); Marius Bianchi, Paris (from 1872); Mme Marius Bianchi (Mathilde Jeanin, David's great-granddaughter), Paris (in 1913); her daughters, vicomtesse de Fleury, comtesse Murat, and marquise de Ludre-Frolois, Paris (until 1931; sold to MMA)
Paris. Salon. September 1787, no. 119 (as "Socrate au moment de prendre la ciguë," lent by M. de Trudaine).
Paris. Salon. September 1791, no. 299 (as "Socrate, au moment de prendre la ciguë").
Paris. Galerie Lebrun. "Ouvrages de peinture exposés au profit des Grecs [first exhibition]," May 17–July 3, 1826, no. 35 or 37 (lent by the marquis de Vérac) [listed as no. 37 in the first two editions of the exhibition catalogue and as no. 35 in the third edition; see "La Grèce en révolte: Delacroix et les peintres français, 1815–1848," exh. cat., Paris, 1996, pp. 267, 270].
Paris. Galerie Lebrun. "Ouvrages de peinture exposés au profit des Grecs [second exhibition]," July 16–November 19, 1826, no. 41 (lent by the marquis de Vérac).
Paris. Galerie des Beaux-Arts (Bazar Bonne-Nouvelle). "Exposition au profit de la caisse de secours et pensions de la société des artistes peintres . . . et dessinateurs," January 11–?, 1846, no. 7 (lent by the marquis de Vérac).
Paris. Palais de la Présidence du Corps Législatif. "Ouvrages de peinture exposés au profit de la colonisation de l'Algérie par les Alsaciens-Lorrains," opened April 23, 1874, no. 761 (lent by M. Bianchi).
Paris. Palais des Beaux-Arts. "David et ses élèves," April 7–June 9, 1913, no. 23 (as "Socrate au moment de prendre la ciguë," lent by Mme Bianchi, "arrière-petite fille de David").
New York. Wildenstein. "The French Revolution," December 1943, no. 49.
New York. Century Association. "Sculpture by Houdon, Paintings and Drawings by David," February 19–April 10, 1947, no. 12.
Paris. Orangerie des Tuileries. "David: Exposition en l'honneur du deuxième centenaire de sa naissance," June 1–September 30, 1948, no. M.O. 21.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Classical Contribution to Western Civilization," April 21–September 5, 1949, not in catalogue [possibly shown in New York only].
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Art Treasures of the Metropolitan," November 7, 1952–September 7, 1953, no. 139.
Paris. Petit Palais. "Baudelaire," November 23, 1968–March 17, 1969, no. 156.
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. "Masterpieces of Painting in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," September 16–November 1, 1970, unnumbered cat. (p. 72).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Masterpieces of Fifty Centuries," November 15, 1970–February 15, 1971, no. 356.
London. Royal Academy and Victoria and Albert Museum. "The Age of Neo-Classicism," September 9–November 19, 1972, no. 63.
Paris. Grand Palais. "De David à Delacroix: La peinture française de 1774 à 1830," November 16, 1974–February 3, 1975, no. 32.
Detroit Institute of Arts. "French Painting 1774–1830: The Age of Revolution," March 5–May 4, 1975, no. 32.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "French Painting 1774–1830: The Age of Revolution," June 12–September 7, 1975, no. 32.
Washington. National Gallery of Art. "The Eye of Th: Jefferson," June 5–September 6, 1976, no. 331.
L[e].N[oir]. L'ombre de Rubens au sallon, ou l'école des peintres, dialogue critique. 1787, pp. 37, 41 [Collection Deloynes, vol. 15, no. 371, pp. 97, 101], notes that the sharpness and murderous effect ["effet meurtrier"] suggest a colored sculpture and not the sweet harmony of painting.
Observations critiques sur les tableaux du sallon de l'année 1787. Paris, 1787, pp. 15–17 [Collection Deloynes, vol. 15, no. 373, pp. 157–59].
[J. B. Pujoulx]. Les grandes prophéties du Grand Nostradamus sur le grand salon de peinture de l'an de grâce 1787. 1787, pp. 17–19 [Collection Deloynes, vol. 15, no. 374, pp. 193–95], observes that it is less harmonious than other works of David.
L. B. de B. Lanlaire au salon académique de peinture. 1787, p. 24 [Collection Deloynes, vol. 15, no. 375, p. 244].
Tarare au sallon de peinture. 1787, pp. 19–20 [Collection Deloynes, vol. 15, no. 376, pp. 275–76], calls it worthy of Raphael.
[Lefebvre]. Encore un coup de patte, pour le dernier, ou dialogue sur le salon de 1787, première partie. 1787, pp. 23–26 [Collection Deloynes, vol. 15, no. 378, pp. 319–22], notes that in this painting great faults are balanced by sublime beauties.
l'A. R[obin]. L'ami des artistes au sallon. Paris, 1787, pp. 36–38 [Collection Deloynes, vol. 15, no. 379, pp. 374–76], publishes a poem by Duchofal written in homage to David and this painting.
Lettre d'un amateur de Paris à un amateur de province sur le sallon de peinture de l'année 1787. Paris, 1787, pp. 11–13 [Collection Deloynes, vol. 15, no. 381, pp. 411–13], admires it but wishes the figures were better united with the background.
[Gorsas]. La plume du coq de Micille, ou aventures de critès au sallon. 1787, p. 38 n. 2 [Collection Deloynes, vol. 15, no. 382, p. 462 n. 2], considers it one of David's most ordinary paintings.
La bourgeoise au sallon. 1787, pp. 16–17 [Collection Deloynes, vol. 15, no. 384, pp. 524–25].
Merlin au salon en 1787. 1787, pp. 15–20 [Collection Deloynes, vol. 15, no. 385, pp. 547–52], comments on the affectation of some of the poses and the excessive degree of finish.
Mr. A. B. C. D. . . . Ah! Ah! ou relation véritable . . . de la conversation . . . au sallon du Louvre, en examinant les tableaux qui y sont exposés. 1787, p. 13 [Collection Deloynes, vol. 15, no. 386, p. 585].
Inscriptions pour mettre au bas de différens tableaux exposés au sallon du Louvre en 1787. 1787, p. 11 [Collection Deloynes, vol. 15, no. 387, p. 603].
Critique des quinze critiques du salon, ou notices faites pour donner une idée de ces brochures. 1787, pp. 7, 10–12 [Collection Deloynes, vol. 15, no. 390, pp. 683, 686–88], finds the criticisms of "Merlin" excessive.
[Demoustier]. Le bouquet du sallon. , p. 5 [Collection Deloynes, vol. 15, no. 388, p. 613].
[Beffroy de Reigny]. Le cousin Jacques hors du sallon; folie sans conséquence à l'occasion des tableaux exposés au Louvre en 1787. 1787, pp. 45–47 [Collection Deloynes, vol. 15, no. 389, pp. 661–63].
"[Sur l'exposition des tableaux du Louvre en 1787]." Journal de Paris (1787) [Collection Deloynes, vol. 15, no. 394, pp. 765–66; according to Ref. Verbraeken 1973, p. 54 n. 16, transcribed from Journal de France (sic?), September 22, 1787]
Observations contenues dans les petites affiches de Paris. 1787 [Collection Deloynes, vol. 15, no. 395, p. 807].
[M. de Charnois]. Mercure de France () [Collection Deloynes, vol. 15, no. 396, pp. 836–38, transcribed from edition of September 1787, p. 177], notes that the head of Socrates follows an antique bust portrait.
"Exposition des tableaux au salon du Louvre en 1787." Journal général de France () [Collection Deloynes, vol. 15, no. 402, pp. 957–59].
"Exposition des peintures, sculptures et gravures." Journal encyclopédique () [Collection Deloynes, vol. 50, no. 1360, pp. 393–94].
C[ochin]. Examen des critiques qui ont été publiées sur l'exposition des tableaux au Salon du Louvre en 1787.  [see Ref. Rosenberg and Sandt 1983, p. 126], praises Peyron but observes that David has triumphed.
Thomas Jefferson. Letter to John Trumbull. August 30, 1787 [see Ref. Brejon de Lavergnée 1976, p. 154; erroneously as from 1784], comments on the Salon, observing that "the best thing is the 'Death of Socrates' by David, and a superb one it is".
Count Stanislas Kostka Potocki. Lettre d'un étranger sur le salon de 1787.  [reprinted in Ref. Zoltowska 1974, pp. 28–39; this picture mentioned pp. 34, 36–38], enthusiastically describes it, observing that Peyron's painting of the same subject serves as an example of how far below David one can be, even with talent.
John Boydell. "Observations on the State of the Arts in Paris." The World (October 2, 1787) [reprinted in Ref. Bordes 1992], calls it the greatest work of art since the Sistine Chapel and Raphael's stanze in the Vatican.
Jean Germain Drouais. Letter to David. June 13, 1787 [published in Ref. David 1880, pp. 41–42], writing from Rome, notes that he has heard the painting is superb.
Jean Germain Drouais. Letter to David. August 10, 1787 [published in Ref. David 1880, p. 42], implies that David wrote him expressing concern that the figure of Socrates would be too cold.
Jean Germain Drouais. Letter to David. December 19, 1787 [published in Ref. David 1880, p. 51], writes enthusiastically about the painting, which he could see in an engraving of the Salon installation.
The World (October 11, 1787), p.2 [published in Ref. Carr 1993, p. 315], names David among the most distinguished artists in the 1787 exhibition, singling out this picture.
The World (October 18, 1787), p. 2 [published in Ref. Carr 1993, p. 315], describes it as having "particular excellence"; reports that "the original price, to Mons. Chatelet, was 150 Guineas. Since the Exhibition opened, 1000 Guineas have been offered, and refused!".
General Evening Post (September 8–11, 1787), p. 3 [as extract of a September 3 letter from Paris; published in Ref. Carr 1993], mentions it as belonging to Trudaine, and gives dimensions.
"Extract of a letter from a gentleman at Paris, to his friend in London, dated Sept. 18." Morning Chronicle and London Advertiser (September 26, 1787), p. 3 [published in Ref. Carr 1993], notes that Boydell took "great notice" of it.
Sir Brooke Boothby. Letter to Sir Joshua Reynolds. January 26, 1788, observes that "M. David tho' a remarkably modest person is ambitious of fame. He wishes to have a picture seen in England, and would send either the Horatii or the Socrates . . . .".
London Times (April 18, 1788), p. 2 [published in Ref. Carr 1993], as purchased by the Duke of Orleans.
Vérités agréables ou le salon vu en beau. Paris, 1789, pp. 15–16 [Collection Deloynes, vol. 16, no. 415, pp. 173–74], compares the versions by Peyron and David, calling Peyron's the work of "a profound philosopher," and David's that of "a great logician".
[Louis Petit de Bachaumont]. Mémoires secrets. Vol. 36, London, 1789, pp. 318–20, 346–47, compares Peyron's painting unfavorably, calling his "hero philosopher" an ordinary man.
Explication des peintures, sculptures et gravures de messieurs de l'Académie Royale . . . Paris, 1791, p. 17, no. 88 [Collection Deloynes, vol. 17, no. 432].
M. D . . . [P. Chéry?]. Explication et critique impartiale de toutes les peintures, sculptures, gravures, dessins, &c., exposés au Louvre d'après le décret de l'assemblée nationale, au mois de septembre 1791 . . . Paris, 1791, p. 37, no. 299 [Dezallier d'Argenville, A. N., is inscribed in pencil on the title page of the FARL catalogue; Anatole de Montaiglon ("Le livret de l'exposition faite en 1673 dans la cour du Palais-Royal . . . suivi . . . des livrets et des critiques de salons depuis 1673 jusqu'en 1851," Paris, 1852) identifies the author as "M. Chery, peintre"; Collection Deloynes, vol. 17, no. 436, p. 171].
Pithou. Le plaisir prolongé, le retour du Salon chez soi et celui de l'abeille dans sa ruche. Paris, 1791, p. 39, no. 299 [Collection Deloynes, vol 17, no. 437, p. 243].
"De l'exposition de 1791, en général et particulièrement de celle des tableaux déjà connus par les précédentes expositions." Chronique de Paris () [Collection Deloynes, vol. 17, no. 452, p. 601].
Lettres analitiques, critiques et philosophiques sur les tableaux du sallon. Paris, 1791, pp. 59–60 [Collection Deloynes, vol. 17, no. ?, pp. 419–20], notes that it was painted between the artist's "Oath of the Horatii" and his Brutus, better than the latter and inferior to the former.
André Chénier. "Sur la peinture d'histoire." Journal de Paris (March 20, 1792) [reprinted in G. Walter, ed., "Oeuvres complètes," 1940, p. 284].
André Morellet. Mémoire pour les citoyennes Trudaine veuve Micault, Micault veuve Trudaine et le citoyen vivant Micault-Courbeton fils. Paris, 1794, p. 79, names Trudaine de Montigny as the one who commissioned this picture.
T. C. Bruun Neergaard. Sur la situation des beaux-arts en France, ou lettres d'un Danois à son ami. Paris, 1801, p. 89, notes that many people criticized the picture for resembling antiquity too closely and faulted the artist for the highly finished drawing, but observes that the manner in which a work is censured is often a form of praise.
Joseph Farington. Journal entry. September 20, 1802 [published in Garlick, K., and Macintyre, A., eds. "The Diary of Joseph Farington," vol. 5, New Haven, 1979, p. 1861], mentions having seen in David's apartments in the Louvre "a drawing of the death of Socrates made by one of the Pupils of David from the celebrated picture which he painted abt. the Year 1786 or 7.- it is composed much in the manner of Nicolo Poussin . . . .".
C[harles]. P[aul]. Landon. Annales du musée et de l'école moderne des beaux-arts 3 (1803), pp. 147–48, ill. (C. Normand's engraving), as in the collection of Micault de Courbeton, brother-in-law of Trudaine, for whom it was painted.
The Historic Gallery of Portraits and Paintings, or, Biographical Review. London, 1807, vol. 1, pp. 255–56, ill. opp. p. 255 (W. Cooke's engraving) [paraphrase or translation of Ref. Landon 1803].
[P. Chaussard]. Le Pausanias français, ou description du salon de 1806. 2nd ed. [1st ed. 1806]. Paris, 1808, pp. 155–56, states that the artist told him the pose of the grief-stricken Crito (seated on stool) was based on the position assumed by Uncle Harlowe during the reading of Clarissa's will in Richardson's novel Clarissa.
Joachim Le Breton. Rapport sur les beaux-arts. n.p., 1808, pp. 43–44 n. 1, pp. 50, 105 [reprinted (including edits made between 1810 and 1815) in "Rapports à l'Empereur sur le progrès des sciences, des lettres et des arts depuis 1789," vol. 5, "Beaux-arts," Paris, 1989, pp. 94–95 n. 31, pp. 100, 146].
William Hayley. The Life of George Romney, Esq. London, 1809, p. 149, states that when he and Romney saw this picture in 1790 it "imprest us with considerable respect for [David's] talents".
Stamati Bulgari. Examen moral des principaux tableaux de la galerie du Luxembourg en 1818, et considerations sur l'état actuel de la peinture en France. [probably 1818] [cited in Ref. Saunier 1913, p. 380 n. 1].
Notice sur la vie et les ouvrages de M. J.-L. David. Paris, 1824, pp. 32–34, relates that Napoleon tried to buy it from Trudaine for 60,000 francs.
A. Th[omé de Gamond]. Vie de David. Paris, 1826, pp. 31, 129–30, 162.
A. Mahul. Annuaire nécrologique, ou complément annuel . . . année 1825. Paris, 1826, p. 135, as belonging to the marquis de Vérac.
P. A. Coupin. Essai sur J. L. David, peintre d'histoire . . . Paris, 1827, pp. 19, 53 [see Ref. Blanc 1845], observes that David included Plato in the scene of Socrates's death although he was not present; identifies the disciple who touches the master as Crito, and relates the anecdote about André Chénier suggesting a change in Socrates's gesture.
Stamati Bulgari. Sur le but moral des arts. [1827?], pp. 2, 6, 10 [see Ref. Rosenthal 1900].
Charles Blanc. Histoire des peintres français au dix-neuvième siècle. Paris, 1845, vol. 1, pp. 171–73, 203, 209.
Baudelaire-Dufays [Charles Baudelaire]. "Le musée classique du Bazar Bonne-Nouvelle." Le corsaire-satan (January 21, 1846) [reprinted in Y.-G. Le Dantec and C. Pichois, eds., "Baudelaire: Oeuvres complètes," Paris, 1961, pp. 868–69], calls it admirable, but with a commonplace look reminding him of Duval-Lecamus, père.
?A. H. Delaunay. "Exhibition de l'association des artistes peintres, sculpteurs, architectes et graveurs." Journal des artistes (January 11, 1846), pp. 9–10 [entire article; reprinted in "Le baron Taylor, l'association des artistes et l'exposition du Bazar Bonne-Nouvelle en 1846," Fondation Taylor, 1995, p. 169].
T. Thoré. "Études sur la peinture française depuis la fin du 18° siècle: À propos de l'exposition de la Société des peintres." Le constitutionnel (February 9, 1846) [reprinted in "Le baron Taylor, l'association des artistes et l'exposition du Bazar Bonne-Nouvelle en 1846," Fondation Taylor, 1995, pp. 206–8], notes that it continues the philosophical tradition in French art of which Poussin is the best representative.
T. Thoré. "Études sur la peinture française depuis la fin du 18° siècle: À propos de l'exposition de la société des peintres. M. Ingres." Le constitutionnel (March 10, 1846) [reprinted in "Le baron Taylor, l'association des artistes et l'exposition du Bazar Bonne-Nouvelle en 1846," Fondation Taylor, 1995, pp. 222, 224], calls it an Apotheosis which impels the viewer to take the side of Socrates and of truth.
Delécluze. "Exposition des ouvrages de peinture dans la Galerie des beaux-arts, boulevard Bonne-Nouvelle, 22." Journal des débats (January 28, 1846) [reprinted in "Le baron Taylor, l'association des artistes et l'exposition du Bazar Bonne-Nouvelle en 1846," Fondation Taylor, 1995, pp. 237–38, 240], sees in this picture David's reaction to the French rococo and his return to the study of antiquity and the works Le Sueur and Poussin.
Ch. Lenormant. "Exposition au profit des artistes malheureux." Le correspondant (1846) [reprinted in "Le baron Taylor, l'association des artistes et l'exposition du Bazar Bonne-Nouvelle en 1846," Fondation Taylor, 1995, pp. 277–78], comments on the animation of the figure of Socrates.
Miette de Villars. Mémoires de David, peintre et député à la Convention. Paris, 1850, pp. 36, 100, 189, 232, asserts that David was careless in the preparation of his canvases, citing this picture as an example, painted "on red canvas, which later showed through"; states that when Napoleon tried to buy it the picture belonged to the Trudaine heirs, and that the amount offered was 80,000 francs; adds that, not wanting to deprive the public, they agreed to exhibit it for a year or two.
Victor Cousin. Lectures on the True, the Beautiful and the Good. New York, 1854, pp. 147–48.
E. J. Delécluze. Louis David, son école & son temps. Paris, 1855, pp. 119, 348–49, 399 [reprinted in "Louis David, son école & et (sic) son temps," Paris, 1983], as perhaps David's most perfect composition, superior to his "Oath of the Horatii".
Henri Delaborde. "Peintres et sculpteurs modernes de la France. David et l'école française: 'Louis David, son école et son temps,' par M. Delécluze." Revue des deux mondes, 2nd ser., 10 (May 15, 1855), pp. 752–53, admires its "severe beauty and nobility" but finds the execution cold.
Amédée Cantaloube. "Les dessins de Louis David." Gazette des beaux-arts 7 (1860), pp. 291–92, mentions drawings for the figures of the disciples in the Vinchon collection.
Ernest Chesneau. Le mouvement moderne en peinture: Louis David. Paris, 1861, p. 10 [see Ref. Sterling 1955], finds fault with this picture.
Ernest Chesneau. La Peinture française au XIXe siècle: Les Chefs d'école. Paris, 1862, pp. 11–13, 29, finds some of the poses unnatural, in particular that of Socrates, and emphasizes the reliance on antique sculpture.
Charles Blanc. Histoire des peintres de toutes les écoles: École française. Vol. 2, Paris, 1862, pp. 6–7, ill. p 13 ( the engraving by A. H. Cabasson and J. Quartley).
P. Chaussard. "Notice historique sur Louis David, peintre." Revue universelle des arts 18 (1863–64), pp. 119–20.
Théodore Lejeune. Guide théorique et pratique de l'amateur de tableaux. Vol. 1, Paris, 1864, p. 385.
Jean du Seigneur. "Appendice à la notice de P. Chaussard sur L. David." Revue universelle des arts 18 (1864), pp. 361–62, notes that it has been on view for some time at the Musée du Luxembourg.
Henri Delaborde. Études sur les beaux-arts en France et en Italie. Paris, 1864, vol. 2, pp. 181, 183.
J. L. Jules David. Notice sur le Marat de Louis David suivie de la liste de ses tableaux dressée par lui-même. Paris, 1867, p. 35.
Paul Mantz. "Exposition en faveur de l'oeuvre des Alsaciens et Lorrains." Gazette des beaux-arts, 2nd ser., 10 (September 1874), pp. 200–202, ill. (engraving by Cabasson and Quartley), supposes that the painting of Socrates exhibited in Paris in 1874 was a second version in smaller format; claims that this smaller picture was lent by David to the Salon of 1791; comments that it is a picture of extraordinary coldness.
L[ouis]. Clément de Ris. Les amateurs d'autrefois. Paris, 1877, p. 419.
J. L. Jules David. Le peintre Louis David, 1748–1825. Vol. 1, Souvenirs & documents inédits. Paris, 1880, pp. 41–42, 45–51, 637, notes that the desire to win a complete victory over his rival Peyron, who had been commissioned to paint the same subject by the King, induced David to push this painting to a degree of finish inappropriate to the subject; doubts that the gesture of Socrates was the idea of Chénier; publishes an appreciation of the picture sent to the artist by "Le Courier Anglais," and identified as by Sir Joshua Reynolds of the London Academy; publishes a poem of unknown authorship presented to Trudaine and celebrating this painting, as well as three letters from Drouais, in which it is mentioned; calls the disciple seated at the right Crito and the one on the left Plato; observes that Socrates's family climbs the stairs in the background.
Théodore Gosselin. Histoire anecdotique des salons de peinture depuis 1673. Paris, 1881, p. 102.
J. L. Jules David. Le peintre Louis David, 1748–1825. Vol. 2, Suite d'eaux-fortes d'après ses oeuvres gravées par J. L. Jules David, son petit-fils. Paris, 1882, ill. (etching).
Léon Rosenthal. La peinture romantique. Paris, 1900, pp. 12, 102.
Olivier Merson. La peinture française au XVIIe siècle et au XVIIIe. 2nd ed. Paris, , p. 326.
Léon Rosenthal. Louis David. Paris, , pp. 33–36, 44, 165, ill. opp. p. 30, compares it to Poussin's "Testament of Eudamidas", but finds it lacks the humanity of the earlier work; mentions it with other works that David exhibited for the second time at the Salon of 1791.
Charles Saunier. Louis David. Paris, 1904, p. 35.
J. J. Tikkanen. Die Beinstellungen in der Kunstgeschichte. 1912, p. 67 [see Ref. Sterling 1955].
Louis Hautecœur. Rome et la renaissance de l'antiquité à la fin du XVIIIe siècle. Paris, 1912, p. 162.
Léon Rosenthal. "L'exposition de David et ses élèves au Petit Palais." Revue de l'art ancien et moderne 33 (May 1913), pp. 340–41, observes that the smallness of the execution and the puerility of intention were criticized by amateurs in 1787.
Charles Saunier. "David et son école au palais des beaux-arts de la ville de Paris (Petit Palais)." Gazette des beaux-arts, 4th ser., 9 (May 1913), pp. 373, 380 [misnumbered 273, 280], finds it "severe and purposefully cold" but notes that it did not seem so to David's disciples.
Otto Grautoff. Nicolas Poussin: Sein Werk und sein Leben. Munich, 1914, vol. 1, p. 302, sees details from Poussin's "Washing of the Feet" in this picture and in that of Peyron.
Georges Grappe. "La psychologie de David." L'art vivant 1 (December 15, 1925), p. 29.
Raymond Régamey. "David." L'art vivant 1 (December 15, 1925), pp. 4–5.
André Salmon. "David révolutionnaire." L'art vivant 1 (December 15, 1925), p. 22.
William T. Whitley. Artists and Their Friends in England, 1700–1799. London, 1928, vol. 1, p. 101 [see Refs. Lilley 1990 and Bordes 1991and 1992], reproduces a portion of the 1787 "Courier Anglais" article in English.
W. R. Valentiner. Jacques Louis David and the French Revolution. New York, 1929, p. 14, observes that the composition is too studied.
Richard Cantinelli. Jacques-Louis David, 1748–1825. Paris, 1930, pp. 24, 104, no. 52, pl. 18, observes that although the picture was an immense success at the Salon of 1787, and can be compared with Poussin in its gravity and simplicity, it lacks his breadth of execution and naturalism; states that M. Bianchi bought it for 17,600 francs, and that it currently belongs to the vicomtesse Fleury.
Bryson Burroughs. "A Picture by Jacques Louis David." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 26 (June 1931), pp. 140–44, ill.
"'Perfect,' said Reynolds of Metropolitan's Masterpiece by David." Art Digest 5 (July 1, 1931), p. 11, ill.
E. Bonnardet. "Comment un Oratorien vint en aide à un grand peintre." Gazette des beaux-arts, 6th ser., 19 (1938), pp. 311–15, ill., assumes that the picture was commissioned in March 1786 by Charles-Louis Trudaine de Montigny; publishes a letter dated April 8, 1786, by Jean Felicissme Adry, who, at David's request, suggested the choice of Socrates's disciples and their attitudes, prescribing an immobility for Plato, strong emotion for Crito, and agitated grief for Apollodorus; notes that Adry also indicated models for the portraits of Socrates and Plato, as well as for the composition as a whole—reproducing an engraving after a Roman sarchophogus with the Death of Meleager (fig. 1) as an example.
Ch[arles]. P[icard]. "David et l'antique." Revue archaeologique 12 (July–December 1938), p. 112, observes that David did not follow the sarcophagus with the Death of Meleager in Villa Albani, Rome.
Klaus Holma. David, son evolution et son style. Paris, 1940, pp. 50–51, 55, 117 nn. 41–43, p. 118 nn. 44–47, p. 126, fig. 9, compares the figures to antique statues; comments on Grautoff's comparison of the composition to Poussin's "Washing of the Feet", noting that David has not achieved Poussin's profundity; suggests the composition and the gestures of the disciples may have been inspired by Leonardo's Last Supper, and the gesture of Socrates by that of Zeus in Raphael's School of Athens; mentions a wash drawing with the vicomtesse Fleury.
Edgar Wind. "The Sources of David's 'Horaces'." Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 4 (1940–41), p. 133 n. 6
, notes that Diderot wrote a pantomime of the "Death of Socrates".
Jacques Maret. David. Monaco, 1943, pp. 8, 117, no. 41, ill.
E[dgar]. W[ind]. "A Lost Article on David by Reynolds." Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 6 (1943), pp. 223–24.
Gaston Brière. "Sur David portraitiste." Bulletin de la Société de l'Histoire de l'Art Français, années 1945–46, (1948), p. 179.
Michel Florisoone. David. Exh. cat., Orangerie des Tuileries. [Paris], 1948, pp. 49–50, no. M.O. 21, states that an analagous composition is in the collection of the vicomtesse Fleury; provides detailed provenance; mentions two pencil studies of the figures at the right in the Narbonne museum.
Michel Florisoone. "Premières conclusions à l'exposition David." Musées de France (November 1948), pp. 258–60.
Helen Rosenau. The Painter Jacques-Louis David. London, 1948, pp. 51, 72.
Douglas Cooper. "Jacques-Louis David: A Bi-Centenary Exhibition." Burlington Magazine 90 (October 1948), p. 279.
Art Treasures of the Metropolitan: A Selection from the European and Asiatic Collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1952, p. 232, no. 139, colorpl. 139.
Walter Friedlaender. David to Delacroix. New York, 1952, p. 17, fig. 4.
Jean Adhémar. David: Naissance du génie d'un peintre. [Monte Carlo?], 1953, pp. 42–43, 59–60, as commissioned by Trudaine de Montigny in 1786; reproduces a number of studies after classical monuments made by David in Rome, some of which were drawn upon for this painting.
Louis Hautecœur. Louis David. Paris, 1954, pp. 90–96, 189, 219, 285, 291, 297, 301, cites other examples of this subject in French painting; notes that the gesture of Socrates, supposedly the idea of Chénier, had existed in earlier works, and was used by Peyron; adds that Trudaine owned a sketch (11 x 18 in.) for the picture that was "seized during the Revolution at the same time as the painting".
Theodore Rousseau Jr. "A Guide to the Picture Galleries." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 12, part 2 (January 1954), pp. 6, 45, ill.
Charles Sterling. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of French Paintings. Vol. 1, XV–XVIII Centuries. Cambridge, Mass., 1955, pp. 191–96, ill., claims that Charles-Michel Trudaine commissioned the painting in 1786; identifies the source as Plato's Phaedo; observes that the composition follows the tradition established in the preceding century by Poussin's "Death of Germanicus" and "Testament of Eudamidas"; notes that in 1795 the Committee of Public Instruction ordered an engraving of the picture as propaganda directed against Robespierre and his reign of terror; states that "a smaller but exact repetition belongs to the heirs of Viscountess de Fleury"; provides extensive bibliography.
René Crozet. "David et l'architecture néo-classique." Gazette des beaux-arts, 6th ser., 45 (1955), p. 219.
Walter Pach. "The Heritage of J.-L. David." Gazette des beaux-arts, 6th ser., 45 (February 1955), pp. 103–4.
Jean Seznec. Essais sur Diderot et l'antiquité. Oxford, 1957, pp. 19–20, fig. 9, traces the history of this subject in the literature and painting of the eighteenth century, noting that the subject was chosen for the Prix de Rome competition in 1762; remarks that both David and Peyron represent the moment from a tableau conceived by Diderot in his "Traité de la poésie dramatique" of 1758; calls the MMA picture the perfect illustration of Diderot's theory of pantomime applied to painting.
Anita Brookner. "Aspects of Neo-Classicism in French Painting." Apollo 68 (September 1958), pp. 71–72, finds Peyron's Socrates a better composition than David's but observes that David has a sense of theatre and a commitment to the events of his age that others lacked.
Jack Lindsay. Death of the Hero: French Painting from David to Delacroix. London, 1960, pp. 55–57, 61, fig. 2, states that the figure of Plato is based on a beggar sketched by David in Rome.
Alphonse Salmon. "Le 'Socrate' de David et le 'Phédon' de Platon." Revue belge de philologie et d'histoire 40 (1962), pp. 90–111, ill. opp. p. 100, compares it to the description of Socrates's death in Plato's "Phaedo", observing that David follows the details of the setting faithfully but takes some liberties with the characters.
Edgar Munhall. "Les dessins de Greuze pour 'Septime Sévère'." L'Oeil no. 124 (April 1965), p. 59, fig. 16.
Robert Rosenblum. Transformations in Late Eighteenth Century Art. Princeton, 1967, pp. 73–76, 103, 125–26, fig. 74, notes that the combination of archaeological realism with the realism of the materials distinguishes David's vision of antiquity from Poussin's.
Anita Brookner. "J. L. David — A Sentimental Classicist." Stil und Überlieferung in der Kunst des Abendlandes. Berlin, 1967, vol. 1, p. 189, pl. I/45, states that iconographically the subject goes back no further than Diderot and that formally it has its origins in Poussin's "Sacraments"; finds the sacrifice "not so much stoical as eucharistic" and notes that there are twelve disciples present.
H. W. Janson and Joseph Kerman. A History of Art and Music. Englewood Cliffs, N.J., , pp. 158–59, fig. 202, find it "more 'Poussiniste' than Poussin himself," with the lighting and realistic detail derived from Caravaggio.
Hugh Honour. Neo-classicism. Baltimore, 1968, p. 72.
Calvin Tomkins. Merchants and Masterpieces: The Story of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1970, p. 224 [rev., enl. ed., 1989].
Frank Anderson Trapp. The Attainment of Delacroix. Baltimore, , p. 202, ill.
Robert L. Herbert. David, Voltaire, 'Brutus' and the French Revolution: An Essay in Art and Politics. New York, 1972, pp. 39, 48, 68, describes it as "another piece of individual heroism for an abstract cause," and suggests that the frieze-like arrangement of the figures was inspired by the paintings of Herculaneum and Pompeii.
Peter Tomory. The Life and Art of Henry Fuseli. New York, 1972, p. 90.
Sarah B. Sherrill. "Current and Coming — Neoclassical Art." Antiques 102 (September 1972), p. 338, ill.
Christopher Neve. "The Age of Neo-Classicism." Country Life 152 (September 7, 1972), p. 569, ill.
Jeffery Daniels. "A Man's World." Art and Artists 7 (November 1972), pp. 28–29, ill.
Arlette Sérullaz inThe Age of Neo-Classicism. Exh. cat., Royal Academy of Arts. [London], 1972, pp. xxvi, 41–42, 44, no. 63, pl. 2.
René Verbraeken. Jacques-Louis David jugé par ses contemporains et par la postérité. Paris, 1973, pp. 24–25, 28–30, 33, 46, 54–55, 80–82, 85 n. 58, pp. 87, 88 n. 11, pp. 94, 106, 108, 149 n. 54, pp. 150, 245.
Jacob Bean et al. Dessins français du Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York: De David à Picasso. Exh. cat., Musée du Louvre. [Paris], 1973, p. 31, discuss the studies for this painting.
Daniel Wildenstein and Guy Wildenstein. Documents complémentaires au catalogue de l'oeuvre de Louis David. [Paris], , document nos. 162, 180, 188–89, 191–92, 195, 303, 327, 352, 1165, 1167, 1543, 1810, 1929, 1931, 1938, 2039, 2049 (20), 2062 (97), 2080; and for the print nos. 2041 (46), 2062 (127), 2073; five sketches for the drapery, no. 2062 (97).
Anita Brookner. Jacques-Louis David: A Personal Interpretation. London, 1974, pp. 8, 11–14, pl. 1b, stresses the picture's "eucharistic . . . flavor"
Meir Stein. "Un chef-d'oeuvre retrouvé de Peyron." Bulletin de la Société de l'Histoire de l'Art Français (1974), pp. 235–37, publishes the Peyron "Socrates" of 1787 as a sketch for a painting of the subject commissioned by Louis XVI.
Robert Herbert. "Baron Gros's Napoleon and Voltaire's Henri IV." The Artist and the Writer in France: Essays in Honour of Jean Seznec. Ed. Francis Haskell et al. Oxford, 1974, p. 67 n. 59, observes that David studied Moreau-le-Jeune's engraving of the subject, dated 1785, for Voltaire's "Socrate" [see Ref. Oberreuter-Kronabel 1986, pl. 2].
Robert Rosenblum. "'L'Épidémie d'Espagne' d'Aparicio au salon de 1806." Revue du Louvre et des musées de France 24 (1974), pp. 433, 435, ill.
Maria Evelina Zoltowska. "La première critique d'art écrite par un Polonais: 'Lettre d'un étranger sur le salon de 1787' de Stanislas Kostka Potocki." Dix-huitième siècle no. 6 (1974), pp. 335, 337, 339–40 [reprinted in "Stanislas Kostka Potocki, David, et le Salon de 1787 . . . ," Antemurale 24 (1980), pp. 13, 16, 20, 45 n. 60, p. 49 nn. 89–92, p. 50 nn. 93–98, ill. p. 54].
Pierre Rosenberg. The Age of Louis XV: French Painting, 1710–1774. Exh. cat., Toledo Museum of Art. [Toledo], 1975, p. 33.
Seymour Howard. Sacrifice of the Hero: The Roman Years. A Classical Frieze by Jacques Louis David. Sacramento, 1975, p. 110 n. 88.
Antoine Schnapper et al. inFrench Painting, 1774–1830: The Age of Revolution. Exh. cat., Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, 1975, pp. 41–42, 367–68, 562, no. 32, ill. p. 82 [French ed., De David à Delacroix: La peinture française de 1774 à 1830, 1974, pp. 42–43, 367–68, 555, no. 32, pl. 36].
René Huyghe. La Relève de l'imaginaire. La Peinture française au XIXe siècle: Réalisme, romantisme. Paris, 1976, pp. 71, 73, 120.
Diane Kelder. Aspects of "Official" Painting and Philosophic Art, 1789–1799. PhD diss., Bryn Mawr College. New York, 1976, pp. 18, 22–23, 35, 53–54, 121, 144, pl. 2.
Arnauld Brejon de Lavergnée inThe Eye of Th. Jefferson. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Art. Washington, 1976, pp. xxviii, 154, 190, 377, no. 331, ill. (color).
Lydie Huyghe in René Huyghe. La Relève de l'imaginaire. La Peinture française au XIXe siècle: Réalisme, romantisme. Paris, 1976, p. 447.
Frances Suzman Jowell. Thoré-Bürger and the Art of the Past. PhD diss., Harvard University. New York, 1977, p. 125.
Michael Fried. "Francis Haskell, Anthony Levi, and Robert Shackleton, eds., 'The Artist and the Writer in France: Essays in Honour of Jean Seznec'." Art Bulletin 59 (June 1977), pp. 289, 291, sees David's history paintings of the 1780s as exemplifying extreme states of absorption in an action or state of mind, as well as pictorial autonomy from the world of the viewer; believes that by the mid-1790s David drew back from such theatrical extremes.
George Levitine. Girodet-Trioson: An Iconographical Study. PhD diss., Harvard University. New York, 1978, pp. 8, 35–36, 70, states that Girodet helped David paint some of the figures in the background.
Thomas Crow. "The 'Oath of the Horatii' in 1785: Painting and Pre-revolutionary Radicalism in France." Art History 1 (December 1978), pp. 429–30.
Steven A. Nash. "David, Socrates and Caravaggism: A Source for David's 'Death of Socrates'." Gazette des beaux-arts, 6th ser., 91 (May–June 1978), pp. 202–6, fig. 1, discusses as David's point of departure for this picture a painting of the Death of Socrates by a seventeenth-century Caravaggisti in Rome (fig. 2, Giustiniani collection, Rome, until 1812; later Kaiser Friedrich Museum, destroyed in World War II); publishes a drawing after the Giustiniani picture (fig. 3, in an album of David's drawings, Nationalmuseum, Stockholm), as "Attributed to David" and almost certainly bound into this album before he painted his Death of Socrates.
Bernard Dunstan. "Looking at Paintings." American Artist 43 (September 1979), pp. 64–65, ill. (black and white and color).
Howard Hibbard. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1980, pp. 385, 387–88, fig. 693 (color).
Anita Brookner. Jacques-Louis David. New York, 1980, pp. 29, 44, 46, 79–80, 82–86, 90, 99, 103, 112, 135, 167–68, fig. 43.
Michael Fried. Absorption and Theatricality: Painting and Beholder in the Age of Diderot. Berkeley, 1980, pp. 136, 157, 160, 193 n. 81, p. 232 n. 60, p. 239 n. 102, p. 240 n. 108, comments on the "translation of the principal action away from the main axis (that of the vanishing point) as a means of retarding the viewer's grasp of what is taking place and thereby heightening the dramatic impact".
Michael Fried. "Representing Representation: On the Central Group in Courbet's 'Studio'." Art in America 69 (September 1981), p. 168.
Norman Bryson. Word and Image: French Painting of the Ancien Régime. Cambridge, 1981, pp. 205, 226, 233–35, 240, fig. 78, points out that Socrates was a polemical figure in Enlightenment France, raising the question of whether a high standard of morality could be achieved outside Christianity; notes that the coexistance in this picture of eucharistic symbolism with pagan stoicism creates an ambiguous moral message.
Philippe Bordes. "Dessins perdus de David, dont un pour 'la Mort de Socrate,' lithographiés par Debret." Bulletin de la Société de l'Histoire de l'Art Français (1981), pp. 179, 181–84, fig. 8, nn. 19–21, publishes as fig. 7 an 1844 lithograph (Musée des Beaux-Arts, Rennes) by David's pupil Jean-Baptiste Debret after a lost preparatory study by David for this painting.
Philip Conisbee. Painting in Eighteenth-Century France. Oxford, 1981, pp. 107–8, ill.
Meir Stein. "Et genfundet hovedværk af Peyron." Kunstmuseets Årsskrift 1977–1980 (1981), pp. 21–27, 30 nn. 31, 44.
Antoine Schnapper. David. English ed. [French ed. 1980]. New York, 1982, pp. 59, 72, 77, 80–84, 86, 100–101, 130, 174, fig. 39, mentions a drawing in David's Berlin album [Kupferstichkabinett, inv. 79 d 30a, folio 23; ill. Ref. Oberreuter-Kronabel 1986, figs. 31–32], which he cites as a source for the gesture of Socrates.
Pierre Rosenberg and Udolpho van de Sandt. Pierre Peyron, 1744–1814. Neuilly-sur-Seine, 1983, pp. 124–26, fig. 113, state that Trudaine "commissioned" this picture in March 1786 after the subjects of pictures commissioned by Louis XVI were already known; conclude that David suggested the subject and that in his rivalry with Peyron he put all his effort into the Socrates, neglecting a royal commission.
Philippe Bordes. Le Serment du Jeu de Paume de Jacques-Louis David: Le peintre, son milieu et son temps de 1789 à 1792. Paris, 1983, pp. 21–22, 95 n. 39, pp. 131–32, publishes the complete French text of Le Courier Anglais 1787; states that Trudaine commissioned from David a Death of Socrates "dans les dimensions des toiles de Poussin".
Luc de Nanteuil. Jacques-Louis David. New York, 1985, pp. 24, 58, 60, 63, 68, 94, 106, 132, colorpl. 12.
Philippe Ariès. Images of Man and Death. Cambridge, Mass., 1985, p. 102, fig. 157.
Thomas E. Crow. Painters and Public Life in Eighteenth-Century Paris. New Haven, 1985, pp. 215–16, 243–47, ill., believes that the initiative for the choice of subject came from David, who wished to "show that when appropriate . . . he could surpass Peyron effortlessly at the point of the latter's maximum strength".
Antoine Schnapper in1770–1830: Autour du Néo-Classicisme en Belgique. Exh. cat., Musée Communal des Beaux-Arts d'Ixelles. [Brussels], 1985, p. 30.
Gabriele Oberreuter-Kronabel. Der Tod des Philosophen: Zum Sinngehalt eines Sterbebildtypus der französischen Malerei in der zweiten Hälfte des 18. Jahrhunderts. Munich, 1986, pp. 24, 27–28, 33, 60–84, 91–94, 142–43 nn. 195, 206, p. 144 nn. 109, 211, p. 146 nn. 230, 232–33, p. 147 n. 236, p. 148 nn. 266–67, p. 149 nn. 268–69, 285, ill. on cover (detail), discusses the composition; notes similarities, particularly in the pose of Socrates, to the engraving of the Death of Socrates by Moreau le jeune exhibited in the Salon of 1785; publishes part of an "inventaire des objets reservés pour la Nation" from the Trudaine residence [Paris, Archives Nationales, F17 1267 (T, No. 190)] where this picture is listed as no. 1, and no. 13 is a painted study for it: "La première pensée de la mort de Socrate. esquisse peinte composition de 9 figures. Sur toile, hauteur 11 pouces sur 18. De David..."; identifes a Greek votive relief in the Vatican Museums (fig. 32) that was the source for the early drawing by David that inspired Socrates' gesture.
Yvonne Korshak. "'Paris and Helen' by Jacques Louis David: Choice and Judgment on the Eve of the French Revolution." Art Bulletin 69 (March 1987), pp. 102–3, ill.
Albert Boime. A Social History of Modern Art. Vol. 1, Art in an Age of Revolution, 1750–1800. Chicago, 1987, pp. 405, 407–11, 417, 430, ill.
Jean-Jacques Lévêque. L'art et la Révolution française, 1789–1804. Neuchâtel, Switzerland, 1987, pp. 220–21, ill. (color).
Thomas Puttfarken. "Whose public?" Burlington Magazine 129 (June 1987), p. 399.
Donna Marie Hunter. "Second Nature: Portraits by J.-L. David, 1769–1792." PhD diss., Harvard University, 1988, pp. 230, 273, 336, 348, 401 n. 5, pp. 425–26 nn. 95–97, cites Potocki's comments, noting that his "unstinting praise for a single artist coupled with a harsh assessment of the French school at large outraged certain academicians".
Yvonne Korshak. "Discussion: An Exchange on Jacques Louis David's 'Paris and Helen'." Art Bulletin 70 (September 1988), p. 520.
Philippe Bordes. David. Paris, , pp. 49, 52–53, ill. pp. 50–51 (color).
Régis Michel. David: L'art et le politique. Paris, 1988, pp. 44–47, 170, ill. (color, overall and details).
Fred Licht inGoya and the Spirit of Enlightenment. Exh. cat., Museo Nacional del Prado. Boston, 1988, p. lxxvii, fig. 1.
Philippe Bordes and Régis Michel, ed. Aux armes & aux arts!: Les arts de la Révolution, 1789–1799. Paris, 1988, pp. 13, 15, 26, 36.
Dorothy Johnson. "Corporality and Communication: The Gestural Revolution of Diderot, David, and 'The Oath of the Horatii'." Art Bulletin 71 (March 1989), p. 111.
Gilles Néret. David: La terreur et la vertu. [Paris], 1989, pp. 32, 35, 139.
Bernard Noël. David. Paris, 1989, pp. 20, 24, 26, ill.
Jean-Jacques Lévêque. La vie et l'oeuvre de Jacques-Louis David. Paris, 1989, pp. 82, 84, ill. p. 85 (color).
Brigitte Gallini inLa Révolution française et l'Europe, 1789–1799. Exh. cat., Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais. Paris, 1989, p. 293, comments on the general preference for history subjects during the revolutionary period following the lead of David.
Warren Roberts. Jacques-Louis David, Revolutionary Artist: Art, Politics, and the French Revolution. Chapel Hill, 1989, pp. 19, 32, 34, 111, 123, 204, fig. 6, discusses the picture as a product of the philosophical atmosphere around the société Trudaine.
Alan Wintermute in1789: French Art During the Revolution. Ed. Alan Wintermute. Exh. cat., Colnaghi. New York, 1989, pp. 112, 114, 116–19, fig. 1, states that the Princeton replica was clearly made in David's shop and proposes Girodet as the copyist.
Carol S. Eliel in1789: French Art During the Revolution. Ed. Alan Wintermute. Exh. cat., Colnaghi. New York, 1989, p. 58, mentions the scroll and beakers on the floor as examples of David's equivocation between formal abstraction and detailed visual accuracy.
Elisabeth Agius-d'Yvoire inJacques-Louis David, 1748–1825. Exh. cat., Musée du Louvre. Paris, 1989, pp. 18–19, 21, 122–23, 160, 178–80, 186, 197–98, 329–30, 571–73, 577, 601, 635, fig. 44, publishes a newly discovered drawing signed and dated 1782 (no. 76, private collection), which he considers among David's first studies and evidence that he attempted the subject before Trudaine's commission; observes that the surprising date is supported by the fact that the verso of the drawing depicts Horace and Camille in the same poses in which they appear in a 1781 wash drawing (cat. no. 52); notes that Debret's 1844 lithograph must have used the 1782 drawing as a model.
Jean-François Heim, Claire Béraud, and Philippe Heim. Les salons de peinture de la Révolution française, 1789–1799. Paris, 1989, p. 174, ill. p. 175.
Nina Athanassoglou-Kallmyer. French Images from the Greek War of Independence, 1821–1830: Art and Politics under the Restoration. New Haven, 1989, pp. 39, 157.
Stephanie Carroll. "Reciprocal Representations: David & Theater." Art in America 78 (May 1990), pp. 203, 259, states that the The Oath of the Horatii and the Death of Socrates "were performed on Oct. 31, 1789, at the Théâtre Ombres Chinoises in the Palais Royal in what contemporary accounts called parodies—a curious turn on their high seriousness".
E. D. Lilley. "Jacques-Louis David and Joshua Reynolds: A Note and a Query." British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies Bulletin no. 21 (Summer 1990), pp. 10–13.
Philippe Bordes. "Paris and Versailles: David." Burlington Magazine 132 (February 1990), p. 154, claims that the signature and date of 1782 on the recently discovered drawing are additions.
Philippe Bordes Institute of Fine Arts. Lecture. October 28, 1991, suggests that the print dealer John Boydell was the author of the praise-filled review, "The State of the Arts in Paris", and that it appeared in Journal of the World; also suggests that Reynolds translated the review and mailed it to David.
Colnaghi in America: A Survey to Commemorate the First Decade of Colnaghi New York. Ed. Nicholas H. J. Hall. New York, 1992, p. 33.
Colin B. Bailey inThe Loves of the Gods: Mythological Painting from Watteau to David. Exh. cat., Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth. New York, 1992, pp. 509–10.
José-Luis de Los Llanos. Fragonard et le dessin français au XVIIIe siècle dans les collections du Petit Palais. Exh. cat., Petit Palais. Paris, 1992, p. 100.
Philippe Bordes. "Jacques-Louis David's Anglophilia on the Eve of the French Revolution." Burlington Magazine 134 (August 1992), pp. 482, 484, 487, 490, ill., publishes the entire original text of the October 2, 1787 article in The World.
Patrick Matthiesen and Guy Stair Sainty. Fifty Paintings, 1535–1825, to Celebrate Ten Years of Collaboration between The Matthiesen Gallery, London, and Stair Sainty Matthiesen, New York. London, 1993, pp. 186, 194.
Gerald Carr. "David, Boydell and 'Socrates': A Mixture of Anglophilia, Self-Promotion and the Press." Apollo 137 (May 1993), pp. 307–8, 310–13, 315, ill. (color), attributes the October 2, 1787 article in The World to John Boydel [see Ref. Boydell 1787]l; reviews the circumstances within France and in David's workshop which caused David to cancel his plans to visit London with either the Socrates or the Horatii.
Dorothy Johnson. Jacques-Louis David: Art in Metamorphosis. Princeton, 1993, pp. 66–68, 86, 97, fig. 37.
Garry Apgar. "Jacques-Louis David (1748–1825) . . . A Critical View." Apollo 137 (May 1993), pp. 304, 306.
Édouard Pommier. "David et le patrimoine." David contre David. Ed. Régis Michel. Paris, 1993, vol. 1, p. 568.
Seymour Howard. "Crise et classicisme: David et Rome." David contre David. Ed. Régis Michel. Paris, 1993, vol. 1, p. 50.
Udolpho van de Sandt. "David pour David: 'Jamais on ne me fera rien faire au détriment de ma gloire'." David contre David. Ed. Régis Michel. Paris, 1993, vol. 1, pp. 130, 137 n. 35.
Colin Bailey. "'Les grands, les cordons bleus': Les clients de David avant la Révolution." David contre David. Ed. Régis Michel. Paris, 1993, vol. 1, pp. 145, 151, fig. 65.
Michael Fried. "David et l'antithéâtralité." David contre David. Ed. Régis Michel. Paris, 1993, vol. 1, pp. 207–8, 211, 216, 223, fig. 65.
Lina Propeck. "David et le portrait du roi." David contre David. Ed. Régis Michel. Paris, 1993, vol. 1, p. 309.
Philippe Bordes. "'Brissotin enragé, ennemi de Robespierre': David, conventionnel et terroriste." David contre David. Ed. Régis Michel. Paris, 1993, vol. 1, p. 343, fig. 65.
Alex Potts. "De Winckelmann à David: L'incarnation des idéaux politiques." David contre David. Ed. Régis Michel. Paris, 1993, vol. 1, fig. 65; vol. 2, pp. 649, 652.
Neil McWilliam. "Les David du XIXe siècle." David contre David. Ed. Régis Michel. Paris, 1993, vol. 2, p. 1132 n. 14.
Hubertus Kohle. "La modernité du passé: David, la peinture d'histoire et la théorie néo-classique." David contre David. Ed. Régis Michel. Paris, 1993, vol. 1, fig. 65; vol. 2, pp. 1095, 1100–06, 1110.
Adrian Rifkin. "Un effet David? Les mots de l'art et le statut de l'artiste." David contre David. Ed. Régis Michel. Paris, 1993, vol. 1, fig. 65; vol. 2, p. 1085.
Alvar González-Palacios. "Jacques-Louis David: Le décor de l'antiquité." David contre David. Ed. Régis Michel. Paris, 1993, vol. 1, fig. 65; vol 2, pp. 938–39.
Antoine Schnapper. "David et l'argent." David contre David. Ed. Régis Michel. Paris, 1993, vol. 2, pp. 915, 917.
Sylvain Laveissière. "'Date obolum Picturae': Prud'hon, David du pauvre?" David contre David. Ed. Régis Michel. Paris, 1993, vol. 1, fig. 65; vol. 2, p. 904.
Klaus Herding. "La notion de temporalité chez David à partir du Marat." David contre David. Ed. Régis Michel. Paris, 1993, vol. 1, pp. 434, 436.
Alain Pougetoux. "'Un élève de David et son plus favori': Georges Rouget." David contre David. Ed. Régis Michel. Paris, 1993, vol. 1, fig. 65; vol. 2, p. 885, discusses the influence of the picture on the "Mort de Phocion" painted by David's pupil Georges Rouget.
Thomas E. Crow. "Girodet et David pendant la Révolution: Un dialogue artistique et politique." David contre David. Ed. Régis Michel. Paris, 1993, vol. 2, p. 854.
Jean-Rémy Mantion. "David en toutes lettres." David contre David. Ed. Régis Michel. Paris, 1993, vol. 1, fig. 65; vol. 2, pp. 809, 812–13.
Norman Bryson. "David et le 'Gender'." David contre David. Ed. Régis Michel. Paris, 1993, vol. 1, fig. 65; vol. 2, p. 722, sees a contrast of gender between the bearded Socrates and his young acolytes.
Thomas E. Crow. "A Male Republic: Bonds between Men in the Art and Life of Jacques-Louis David." Femininity and Masculinity in Eighteenth-Century Art and Culture. Ed. Gill Perry and Michael Rossington. Manchester, 1994, pp. 205, 211–13, 217, n. 18, fig. 35, identifies this painting as one in which Greek same-sex "eros" is central; describes it as a tribute to "one ideal of leisured, disinterested masculine fellowship," and links this ideal to the environment in David's studio in the 1780s.
Michael Kimmelman. "At the Met with Roy Lichtenstein: Disciple of Color and Line, Master of Irony." New York Times (March 31, 1995), p. C27.
Bruno Foucart in "La critique artistique devant l'exposition du Bazar Bonne-Nouvelle." Le baron Taylor, l'Association des artistes et l'exposition du Bazar Bonne-Nouvelle en 1846. Paris, 1995, pp. 26, 29, ill. p. 43.
Thomas E. Crow. Emulation: Making Artists in Revolutionary France. New Haven, 1995, pp. 95–102, 108, 140, 183, 316 nn. 50, 54, colorpl. 72.
Heino R. Möller. "Jacques-Louis David, Johannes Grützke und der Sterbende Sokrates." Zeitschrift für Ästhetik und Allgemeine Kunstwissenschaft 40 (1995), pp. 249–71, fig. 1, analyzes it at length in comparison with Johannes Grützke's 1975 painting of the same subject.
Michael Kimmelman. "At the Met with Leon Golub and Nancy Spero." New York Times (January 5, 1996), p. C5.
Garry Apgar. "David and After." Art in America 84 (February 1996), pp. 25, 27, 29.
Joseph Geiger. "Giambettino Cignaroli's Deaths of Cato and of Socrates." Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte 59, no. 2 (1996), p. 275 n. 41.
Valérie Bajou inLa Grèce en révolte: Delacroix et les peintres français, 1815–1848. Exh. cat., Musée des Beaux-Arts, Bordeaux. Paris, 1996, p. 270.
Dorothy Johnson. The Farewell of Telemachus and Eucharis. Los Angeles, 1997, pp. 10, 12, ill.
Sophie Monneret. David et le néoclassicisme. Paris, 1998, pp. 73, 78; ill. in color pp. 76–77, describes it as a posthumous homage to Diderot.
Luc Ferry. Le sens du beau. Paris, 1998, ill. p. 88 (color).
Michael Kimmelman. Portraits: Talking with Artists at the Met, the Modern, the Louvre and Elsewhere. New York, 1998, pp. 90–92, ill. [text similar to Kimmelman 1995].
[Robert B. Simon]. Figure and Fantasy in French Painting, 1650–1800. Exh. cat., Berry-Hill Galleries. New York, 1999, p. 64, mentions it in a discussion of Peyron's painting of the subject from 1788 [now Joslyn Art Museum], which he sees as a response to David's picture as well as an evolution in Peyron's thinking.
Simon Lee. David. London, 1999, pp. 70, 99–105, 108, 116, 144, 217, pl. 66–67 (color), describes the unfinished replica in Princeton as probably painted with Girodet's assistance.
Alan Hyde. Our Homosocial Constitution: Some Sexual and Political Themes in Paintings Admired by the Founding Fathers. June 1999, pp. 3, 7, 12–13, 23 n. 49, 27 n. 90 [see http://www.andromeda.rutgers.edu/~hyde/homo.htm].
Mary Vidal. "David's 'Telemachus and Eucharis': Reflections on Love, Learning, and History." Art Bulletin 82 (December 2000), p. 717 n. 12,
Warren Roberts. Jacques-Louis David and Jean-Louis Prieur: Revolutionary Artists. Albany, 2000, pp. 240–41.
William Vaughan in "Terror and the 'Tabula Rasa': David's 'Marat' in its Pictorial Context." Jacques-Louis David's "Marat". Ed. William Vaughan and Helen Weston. Cambridge, 2000, p. 84.
Andrea Kirsh and Rustin S. Levenson. Seeing Through Paintings: Physical Examination in Art Historical Studies. New Haven, 2000, p. 262.
Claudia Einecke inFinal Moments: Peyron, David, and "The Death of Socrates". Exh. cat.Omaha, 2001, pp. 20–25, 29, 31, 33, 35, 42, fig. 3, describes this picture's "'semaphoric' figures whose postures and gestures 'signal' emotions rather than enact them".
Pierre Rosenberg inFinal Moments: Peyron, David, and "The Death of Socrates". Exh. cat.Omaha, 2001, pp. 5, 10–12, fig. 3.
Pierre Rosenberg in "David e la collezione Giustiniani." Caravaggio e i Giustiniani: Toccar con mano una collezione del Seicento. Ed. Silvia Danesi Squarzina. Exh. cat., Palazzo Giustiniani. Milan, 2001, p. 104.
Giovanna Capitelli in "La collezione Giustiniani tra Settecento e Ottocento: Fortuna e dispersione." Caravaggio e i Giustiniani: Toccar con mano una collezione del Seicento. Ed. Silvia Danesi Squarzina. Exh. cat., Palazzo Giustiniani. Milan, 2001, p. 117.
Robert Rosenblum. "David and Monsiau: Bonaparte tames Bucephalus." Mélanges en hommage à Pierre Rosenberg: Peintures et dessins en France et en Italie, XVIIe–XVIIIe siècles. Paris, 2001, p. 401.
Stephen Bann. "Entre philosophe et critique: Victor Cousin, Théophile Gautier et l'art pour l'art." L'invention de la critique d'art. Ed. Pierre-Henry Frangne and Jean-Marc Poinsot. Rennes, 2002, pp. 138–39, cites Cousin's comments [see Ref. 1854] as an example of precocious and refined art criticism.
Pierre Rosenberg and Louis-Antoine Prat. Jacques-Louis David, 1748–1825: Catalogue raisonné des dessins. Milan, 2002, vol. 1, pp. 50, 67, 70–72, 79, 88, 97, 100–101, 109–10, 182, 226, 344, 429, 454, 560, 657, fig. 52b; vol. 2, pp. 756, 1173, 1191, 1214, 1221, discuss a large number of related drawings.
Steven Conn. "Narrative Trauma and Civil War History Painting, or Why are These Pictures so Terrible." History and Theory 41 (December 2002), p. 24.
Stéphane Guégan. "Du héros et du grand homme: Alexandre, Socrate et les critiques du Salon de 1787." Orages: Litterature et Culture [L'imaginaire du héros] 2 (2003), pp. 28, 34–36, 39–42, ill.
Jean-Pierre Poirier. La science et l'amour: Madame Lavoisier. Paris, 2004, p. 105.
Margaret A. Oppenheimer. The French Portrait: Revolution to Restoration. Exh. cat., Smith College Museum of Art. Northampton, Mass., 2005, p. 53.
Katharine Baetjer inThe Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York: Chefs-d'œuvre de la peinture européenne. Exh. cat., Fondation Pierre Gianadda. Martigny, 2006, pp. 16–17 [Catalan ed., Barcelona, 2006, p. 17].
Pierre Rosenberg. Only in America: One Hundred Paintings in American Museums Unmatched in European Collections. Milan, 2006, pp. 17, 156, ill. (color).
Darcy Grimaldo Grigsby. "The First Painter and the Prix Décennaux of 1810." David after David: Essays on the Later Work. Ed. Mark Ledbury. Williamstown, Mass., 2007, p. 21.
Michel Hilaire in Laure Pellicer and Michel Hilaire. François-Xavier Fabre (1766–1837): De Florence à Montpellier. Exh. cat., Musée Fabre, Montpellier. Paris, 2008, p. 248–50, fig. 1 (color), includes it in his discussion of Fabre's 1802 painting of the same subject (Musée d'Art et d'Histoire, Geneva).
Mary Sprinson de Jesús. "Adélaïde Labille-Guiard's Pastel Studies of the Mesdames de France." Metropolitan Museum Journal 43 (2008), pp. 159, 164.
Marie-Odile van Caeneghem. "Les Lavoisier par Jacques Louis David: Un tableau prémonitoire." Sparsae, hors série, no 4. (2009), p. 73.
Horton A. Johnson. "The Poison in the Cup." Pharos (Spring 2011), pp. 27–29, ill.
Marie-Josèphe Bonnet. Liberté, égalité, exclusion: femmes peintres en révolution, 1770–1804. Paris, 2012, pl. 3 (Martini's engraving).
Revolution. Christie's, New York. April 13, 2016, unpaginated, under no. 11.
There have been conflicting reports as to which of the Trudaine brothers commissioned "The Death of Socrates". For the most convincing early source see Morellet 1794, a memorial written for family members in the year of the brothers' deaths, where it is stated that Trudaine de Montigny commissioned the picture. He and his younger brother, Trudaine de la Sablière, and the poet André Chénier formed a salon for enlightened, mostly well-born young Parisian intellectuals that David also frequented. The Trudaines and Chénier died on the scaffold in 1794.
What may be David's first thought for the subject, a black chalk drawing signed and dated 1782 (possibly falsely), was published in the catalogue of the 1989 David exhibition. A lithograph by J. B. Debret (Musée des Beaux-Arts, Rennes) follows this study. Previously, a different, carefully worked out composition with nude figures had been thought to be David's first study (Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lille, inv. no. 2181).
According to documents in the Archives Nationales, Trudaine owned a painted sudy with nine figures, measuring 11 x 18 pouces, which was seized during the Revolution with the finished work. It does not appear to have survived. An unfinished replica of the MMA painting measuring 57 3/8 x 77 3/16 in. was acquired by the Art Museum, Princeton University, in 1982. At that time, Robert Rosenblum called it a product of David's shop from the late 1780s. A picture of the subject attributed to the school of David (canvas, 65.5 x 81.5 [in.?]) was sold at the American Art Galleries, November 15, 1928, no. 100, to Roberts.
The gesture of Socrates may derive from an anonymous Caravaggist painting of the Death of Socrates formerly in the Giustiniani collection, as a drawing of it is bound into an album of David's studies (Nationalmuseum, Stockholm; ill. in Nash 1978). An album study based on a bas-relief in the Vatican Museums has also been suggested as a source (Kupferstichkabinett, Berlin, inv. no. 79 D 30a; ill. in Oberreuter-Kronabel 1986). There are six highly finished studies for the disciples, three in the Musée Bonnat, Bayonne (nos. 513–15), and one each in the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Tours, the Musée Magnin, Dijon, and the MMA (61.161.1).
The painting was engraved by Pietro Antonio Martini in 1787 (installation view of the salon carré du Louvre), Jean Massard the elder, Charles Normand, W. Cooke, A. H. Cabasson [del.] and J. Quartley [sc.], and J. L. Jules David. A lithograph was made of the picture by Jean Julien Deltil.