David d'Angers was one of the greatest sculptors of the Romantic era. An enormously prolific artist, he made nearly 600 portrait busts and 500 portrait medals. He saw portraiture as a fundamentally moral art and believed that the depiction of great individuals helped to maintain and stimulate moral virtue through the preservation of fame. "I am a history writer," David d'Angers said, "and my task is to hand down to posterity the physiognomies of distinguished men of our time...I see art...as a way of teaching ideals to mankind." David d'Angers preferred to make portraits not on commission, but rather as gifts for the individuals whom he depicted.
Antoine-Jean, Baron Gros (1771-1835), a contemporary of David d'Angers and also one of the great Romantic artists, was known for his historical pictures depicting Napoleon's campaign. Gros enjoyed critical success from his debut at the Salon of 1798 with Portrait of General Berthier, and went on to paint such notable pictures as: Bonaparte visitante les pestiféres de Jaffa (Musée du Louvre), Baitaille d'Eylau (Salon of 1808) (Musée du Louvre), and Recontre de Napoléon avec l'empereu d'Austriche aprés la bataille d'Austerlitz. After 1815, with the restoration of the Bourbons, his best works were portraits of such famous figures as Louis XVIII, Ducesse d'Angoulême (Salon of 1817), and Charles X (Salon of 1824). Many of his paintings were purchased by the State. Due to his melancholic nature and the constant criticism of his work by his mentor and teacher, the master Jacques-Louis David, he ended his life in 1835, by drowning himself in the Seine.
David d'Angers' well known portrait medallion of 1832 depicting Baron Gros is based on this earlier intimate portrait.