OIL PAINTING: Sappho and Phaon, 1809
For this painting, commissioned by Count Nikolai Yusupov, David 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.
Sappho and Phaon is the Hermitage's only painting by David and it dates from that period of Neoclassicism when artists preferred romantic themes to the heroic. Avoiding sentiment and narrative in his oil paintings, the artist concentrates on composition and drawing, ideal beauty and clarity of form