Jacques-Louis David (30 August 1748 – 29 December 1825) was an influential French painter in the Neoclassical style, considered to be the preeminent painter of the era. In the 1780s his cerebral brand of history painting marked a change in taste away from Rococo frivolity toward a classical austerity and severity, heightened feeling harmonizing with the moral climate of the final years of the Ancien Régime.
David later became an active supporter of the French Revolution and friend of Maximilien Robespierre, and was effectively a dictator of the arts under the French Republic. Imprisoned after Robespierre's violent death, he later aligned himself with Napoleon Bonaparte. At this time he developed his Empire style, notable for its use of warm Venetian colors. After Napoleon's fall from power and the Bourbon revival, David emigrated to Brussels (then part of the Netherlands), where he remained until his death. David had a large number of pupils, making him the strongest influence in French art of the early 19th century, especially academic Salon painting.
The young John Audubon studied painting with Jacques-Louis David in France, making figure drawings from a mannequin. Although his first attempt to create a bird mannequin from wood, cork, and wire failed, Audubon soon realized that wires could still be used to position dead birds in lifelike poses, and this system served him throughout his career.