Jacques–Louis David, 1748-1825
Oil on canvas; 225.3 x 262 cm
For this painting, commissioned by Count Nikolai Yusupov, the artist took the legend of the Greek poetess Sappho and her love for the beautiful Phaon. Sappho has on her knees a scroll with one of her verses in praise of Phaon.
This is the Hermitage's only work by David and it dates from that period of Neoclassicism when artists preferred romantic themes to the heroic. Avoiding sentiment and narrative in his works, the artist concentrates on composition and drawing, ideal beauty and clarity of form.
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