The painting Jacques-Louis David submitted to the French Academy with the hope of snatching the much-coveted Rome Prize in 1772 will be sold on March 18th 2002 at Drouot.
Titled “Les Niobides” and showing Apollo and Diana avenging their mother by killing the 12 children of her rival Niobee, this painting did not seduce the jury which attributed the prize to Jombert, a painter who eventually did not gain success during his career. David was so much dismayed that he decided to let himself die of hunger.
The artist, who had in fact many enemies among the members of the jury, was nevertheless saved by a friend of his uncle and managed to obtain the Grand Prize two years later.
The 1772 painting was offered by King Louis 16th to Dr Andry, his personal physician. According to family tradition it passed into the hands of the doctor's son-in-law, Count Felix d'Hérouville and was kept by his successive heirs until nowadays.
Such painting might fetch between $ 3 and 5 million, according to Eric Turquin, expert for this sale.