A pupil of Jacques-Louis David, Girodet trained in France and Rome, but drew less on classical sources than on the epic myths of the Gaelic bard Ossian. The poems of Ossian, the creation of the Scottish writer James Macpherson, were published in Edinburgh in the 1760s and became the equivalent in northern Europe of Homer’s classical tales. Napoleon was particularly obsessed with this cycle of poems and in about 1801 he commissioned Ossianic subjects from Girodet and François Gérard for his château at Malmaison to the west of Paris. In this small, quick sketch, Girodet illustrates a scene in which Malvina mourns the death of her lover, Oscar, son of Ossian. To distract her from her grief, Ossian sings of his own heroic exploits in Croma, an ancient kingdom in Ireland.