Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Napoleon Bonaparte & His First Painter

I posted a few days ago about Jacques-Louis David, the French Revolution Artist. As the French Revolution ended, Napoleon Bonaparte stepped up to become the leader of France - first as First Consul in 1799 and then as Emperor in 1804. David, who had been so supportive of the Revolution, now supported Napoleon and became his "First Painter."

This painting, Napoleon Crossin the Saint Bernard Pass, shows the heroic Napoleon mounted on a spirited horse. Napoleon seems calm as soldiers in the background push a gun carriage up a steep slope. His horse, however, looks terrified. I read that Napoleon had actually crossed the Alps on a donkey, but he thought this made him look more "brave and daring"! (from Lives of the Great Artists by Charlie Ayres)

This portrait by David shows Napoleon in his classic stance with his right arm inside of his coat. I listened to a wonderful podcast on Napoleon by J David Markham. The podcast, An Introduction to The Napoleon 101 Podcast, was over an hour long and it is only #1 of 58 podcasts! It did provide a good overview, and I intend on listening to more of these. Anyway, it said that this stance was actually common in portraits at the time. I read more about it here.

I also watched an hour-long movie about Napoleon at the PBS site. What an amazing life! I can't believe I grew up thinking history was 'boring!'

1 comment:

lahbluebonnet said...

Oh, I've met Napoleon!

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