Belisarius Begging for Alms, 1781 by Jacques-Louis David
Altruism or selflessness is the principle or practice of concern for the welfare of others. It is a traditional virtue in many cultures and a core aspect of various religious traditions and secular worldviews, though the concept of “others” toward whom concern should be directed can vary among cultures and religions. Altruism or selflessness is the opposite of selfishness.
By age 18, the gifted young artist was enrolled at the Académie Royale (Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture). After several failures in competitions and finding more discouragement than support, during a period that included a suicide attempt (apparently by avoiding food), in 1774, he finally obtained the Prix de Rome, a government scholarship that ensured well-paid commissions in France. Also included in the scholarship was a trip to Italy, and in 1775, he and Vien went to Rome together, where David studied Italian masterpieces and the ruins of ancient Rome.