The son of a wood carver from Angers, France, David went to Paris in 1808 to work in the studio of Philippe-Laurent Roland. After winning the 1811 Prix de Rome, he studied in Italy where he met the Neoclassical sculptor Canova. On his return to France, he worked on public and private commissions, executing statues of major political figures, tomb monuments, bust portraits, portrait medallions and bas-reliefs. Despite his strong grounding in Neoclassicism, his work heralds the arrival of the Romantic style in French sculpture. In gratitude for a scholarship from his native city when he was an impoverished student, the sculptor called himself 'David d'Angers'.