In 1793 Gros went to Italy, where he met Napoleon and was appointed his official battle painter. He followed Napoleon on his campaigns, and his huge paintings such as "The Battle of Eylau" (1808) are among the most stirring images of the Napoleonic era. Compared to the contemporary war scenes of Goya, they are glamorous lies, but they are painted with such dramatic skill and panache that they cannot but be admired on their own terms.
When David went into exile after the fall of Napoleon, Gros took over his studio, and tried to work in a more consciously Neoclassical style. He never again approached the quality of his Napoleonic pictures, however (although he painted excellent portraits), and haunted by a sense of failure he drowned himself in the Seine.
Gros is regarded as one of the leading figures in the development of Romanticism; the color and drama of his work influenced Géricault, Delacroix, and his pupils Couture and Bonington amongst others.