Stanisław Kostka Potocki was a well known patron and politican from Poland who also had strong connections in Italy, where he would meet the artist for the first time. Having won the Prix de Rome after making considerable effort to do so for a number of years, David was now able to enjoy the reward of being able to study art in the city of Rome for several years. He produced some of his best early work whilst living here and would send some of it back to Paris so that they could continue to judge his progress in order to determine whether the investment in him was proving worthwhile.
Equestrian art was particularly popular between the 17th and 19th century, with a number of artists across Europe taking this genre to new levels of accuracy and expression. One can immediately recall the work of British painter George Stubbs, whose paintings were the result of painstaking studies of several horse corpses that he would cut open in order to better understand the muscle structure of these beautiful creatures. He tended to focus on horses by themselves, where as others would be drawn to the mounted horses as found in this painting from Jacques Louis David. Regal figures would often desire portraits that suggested power and strength and one way to do this was to have them sat a top a strong horse. They would typically be dressed in battle attire too, in order to portray themselves as brave and confident to future generations that would view these paintings.
This huge canvas can now be found in the collection of the Museum of King Jan III's Palace at Wilanów in Warsaw, Poland. This stunning venue features landscaped gardens and some beautiful architecture and is an ideal location for one of the finest selections of art in all of Poland. The collection focuses most on the more traditional art movements, as anything more modern would not really be suited to the location. Whilst there you should also be able to see the likes of A girl with forget-me-nots by Lucas Cranach the Elder, Madonna and Child by Peter Paul Rubens, A Youth Lighting a Torch by Jan Lievens, as well as a good number of items from more exotic locations such as China and other parts of Asia.