During the French Revolution, Jacques-Louis David was imprisoned twice for his support of Robespierre and for signing arrest warrants while serving as a member of the Committee for Public Safety. While in prison, David made numerous portrait drawings of fellow prisoners, one of which is this drawing of André-Antoine Bernard, known as Bernard des Saintes, a lawyer who was eventually exiled for voting to execute Louis XVI.
The portrait conveys the intensity of his subject's political beliefs. Bernard, who was forty-four at the time, poses stiffly in a high-backed chair with his arms folded resolutely across his chest. David captured the lawyer's forceful character in the determined set of his mouth, his fixed gaze, and his strong profile.