Antoine-Jean Gros was born in Paris on March 16, 1771. His father, who was a miniature painter, began to teach him drawing at the age of six. In 1785 Gros entered the studio of Jacques-Louis David, continuing at the same time to follow the classes of the Collège Mazarin.
The death of his fathe threw Gros, in 1791, upon his own resources. He now devoted himself fully to his profession, and competed in 1792 for the grand prix, unsuccessfully. About this time, however, he was employed on the execution of portraits of the members of the National Convention. Gros in 1793 left France for Italy, he supported himself at Genoa by the same means, producing a great quantity of miniatures. He made the acquaintance of Joséphine de Beauharnais, and followed her to Milan, where he was well received by her husband, Napoleon Bonaparte.
On November 15, 1796, Gros was present with the army near Arcola when Bonaparte planted the French tricolor on the bridge. Bonaparte at once gave him the post of 'inspecteur aux revues', which enabled him to follow the army, and in 1797 nominated him on the commission charged to select the loot which should enrich the Louvre.
In 1799, having escaped from the besieged city of Genoa, Gros made his way to Paris. In the beginning of 1801 he took up his quarters in the Capucins.
Britannica further remarks that as long as the military element remained bound up with French national life, Gros received from it a fresh and energetic inspiration which carried him to the very heart of the events which he depicted; but as the army, and its general separated from the people, Gros, called on to illustrate episodes representative only of the fulfilment of personal ambition, ceased to find the nourishment necessary to his genius, and the defect of his artistic position became evident. Trained in the sect of the Classicists, he was shackled by their rules, even whenby his naturalistic treatment of types, and appeal to picturesque effect in color and tone he seemed to run counter to them.
In 1810 his star had deserted him. The decoration of the dome of St. Genevieve is the only work of Gros's later years which shows his early force and vigour, as well as his skill.
Citing Britannica Encyclopedia, "Exasperated by criticism and the consciousness of failure, Gros sought refuge in the grosser pleasures of life." On 25 June 1835 Antoine-Jean Gros was found drowned on the shores of the Seine near Sèvres.