Born in 1767 in Montargis, Anne-Louis Girodet de Roussy-Trioson, received a substantial humanitarian education. After his father's death in 1784, he joined the studio of Neoclassical genius Jacques-Louis David, and at the age of eighteen he was already one of his most gifted pupils. He won the Prix de Rome in 1789 for the composition Joseph Recognized by His Brothers and went to Italy for five years. There he experienced the influence of Italian Renaissance masters Correggio and Leonardo da Vinci.
In 1793 in Italy, Girodet witnessed the siege and destruction of the French Academy in Rome, who had raised tricolor and invoked the fury of some of the local population. Girodet had only a narrow escape thanks to the help of a man who sat for him. Girodet left Rome for Naples, later visited Florence and Genoa, where he met Gros, and returned to France in 1795. At the Paris Salon of 1793 Girodet was represented by Endymion Asleep, which diverged from Neoclassical tradition and employed gentle nuances of illumination and color that anticipated the effects of Romantic art. This ‘transitional’ style between Neoclassicism and Romanticism is seen in many of Girodet’s works, e.g. Hippocrates Rejecting Artaxerxes’ Gifts (1793); Ossian Meeting Shadows of French Warriors (1802), The Burial of Atala (1808) et al. In 1808, Girodet became a member of the Légion d’Honneur.
His attempts to abandon the monumental style in favor of the early Romantic themes that were then very popular in France aroused the sharp criticism of his teacher, J.-L. David.
In 1812 Girodet inherited a fortune, and after that painted less, increasingly dedicating himself to illustrating books of Virgil, Racine, Bernardin de Saint Pierre and other authors, and to writing poems and verses and translating Greek and Roman authors.
French Painting. XIX century. by V. Berezina. Moscow. Izobrazitelnoe Iskusstvo. 1980. (in Russian)
The Classical Tradition in European Painting. 15-20 centuries. Moscow. 1985. (in Russian)
Painting of Europe. XIII-XX centuries. Encyclopedic Dictionary. Iskusstvo. 1999. (in Russian)