Friday, December 10, 2010

Coronation of Napoleon, David

David was the quite the political commentator through his art. Here is yet another scene of French nationalism. Perhaps it was his profession as a popular artist that obligated him to paint scenes promoting the events occurring in France at that time, because the previous too French pieces speak favorably to the country as well--an unusual message during a time of complete political upheaval. 

The painting does not depict the coronation of Napoleon himself. Upon close examination, the figure kneeling is not Napoleon, but his wife Josephine. Holding the crown that is about to grace her head is Napoleon. Behind him stand the religious figures who would usually preform the coronation duties and rituals. However, previous to the moment which this painting depicts, Napoleon had seized the crown from the hands of these clerics and placed it on his own head, signifying his absolute rule and almost god-like claim to power. Now Josephine receives her crown from the hands of the king, once again reinforcing his authority. 


  1. So epic yet extremely subtle–I love the portraits of the fixated observers behind the empress.

  2. simple yet amazing it captures a epic moment

  3. His mother was not at the coronation. She refused to attend because she knew he would crown himself, a slap in the face of the papacy. However, when Napoleon commissioned this painting, he had David paint her into the picture. It is a picture not so much of Napoleon but the most perfect narcissist.