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Jacques Gamelin

1738–1803, Carcasonne

The biography of Jacques Gamelin reads like an adventure story punctuated by dramatic turning points. Initially a student at the Academy in Toulouse, he continued his training at the Académie royale in Paris in the years 1763/64 before moving to Rome, where he was appointed court painter to Pope Clement XIV and married a fine Venetian lady. In 1793, after stints in Toulouse and Montpellier, Gamelin embarked on a military career, despite being of an advanced age for such a step, and attained the rank of a capitaine du génie (Captain of Engineers) the following year. He became a painter of battles in which he had personally taken part. The artist spent the last years of his life as a professor of historical and portrait painting at the École Centrale in Carcasonne. However, the publication of a costly illustrated textbook of anatomy, the Nouveau Recueil d’Osteologie, exceeded Gamelin’s financial resources and ultimately led to his bankruptcy.