Born Mar. 16, 1771, in Paris; died there June 26, 1835. French painter. Son of a miniature painter.
Gros studied in Paris under J. L. David beginning in 1785 and at the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture in 1787. From 1793 to 1801 he worked in Italy. In his early works and in a number of his battle paintings, Gros depicted Napoleon as a man of passionate heroics; Napoleon on the Bridge at Arcole (circa 1797–98), in the Louvre in Paris; Battle of Nazareth (1801), in the Museum of Fine Arts in Nantes; Napoleon Visiting the Pesthouse at Jaffa (1803–04) and Battlefield of Eylau (1808), both in the Louvre in Paris. The vibrant expressiveness of these paintings startled Gros’ contemporaries. He also introduced a vividly passionate quality into his formal portraits, such as Colonel Fournier-Sartovèze (1812, Louvre). These works led to the destruction of the canons of classical painting and influenced the romanticists T. Géricault and E. Delacroix. However, his position as the official painter of Napoleon I encouraged Gros to adopt a false enthusiasm, to flatter his subject by idealization, and to be unscrupulous. In the Restoration he began to glorify the Bourbons. He also painted pictures on subjects from the ancient world and the Middle Ages.