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Napoleon Bonaparte in the office of the Tuileries

Painting, 1812, 203.9×125.1 cm

Description of the artwork «Napoleon Bonaparte in the office of the Tuileries»

Portrait of Napoleon in the Cabinet of the Tuileries Palace written by Jacques-Louis David in 1812 and, according to contemporaries, is the most realistic image of the Emperor. However, despite the level of detail and realism, there is no evidence that Napoleon posed for the portrait.

The French commander appears in the spectator office, located on the first floor of the Palace of the Tuileries, shown in the modest uniform of Colonel of the grenadiers of the guard infantry (white-blue coat with red cuffs, short culottes in the French style with white stockings). Along with gold epaulettes, breast of Napoleon adorn the badge of the order of the Legion of honor (Grand cross), Sign of the order of the Iron Crown and the Star of the Legion of honour. In the foreground can be seen a gilded wooden chair covered with red velvet, on the armrest, which depicts a sword, implying the military successes of Napoleon, and a large display of Code words indicates his administrative achievements. Other decorative details such as the heraldic bees and lilies - the emblem of French absolutism, symbolize the power of the ruler. Base Empire table decorated with stone sculpted head of a lion, the left of which is the card with the signature of the artist LVDci DAVID OPVS 1812.

In the background rise the pendulum clock frozen on the time in four hours thirteen minutes (assuming the morning), and over the scattered papers on the gilt Desk burns down the last candle, placed in the chandelier. These details are intended to show that the Emperor laboured all night in the name of the nation. Thus, David creates the image of a military commander and administrator and a legislator, whose operating energy exceeds human capabilities.

Interestingly, the pattern, is now represented in the National gallery of art (Washington), was a personal order of a Scottish nobleman Alexander Hamilton, 10th Duke of Hamilton, the art collector and passionate fan of Napoleon. The order was received in 1811, completed the painting was by the end of March 1812 and was first presented in the Palace of Hamilton. Archibald Philip primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebery and the 48th Prime Minister of great Britain acquired the painting in 1882, and in 1954 she was purchased by Foundation Samuel H. Kress from the heirs of Primrose, who betrayed her to the National gallery of art.

Theresecond, the author's version of the picture. Except for details, it is identical in composition, but the Emperor is depicted here in a black camisole. In 1979, the year it was acquired by the House of Bonaparte of the French government and transferred to the Versailles Museum.

Author: Oleg Vybivaet
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About the artwork

Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Portrait

Style of art: Neoclassicism

Technique: Oil

Materials: Canvas

Date of creation: 1812

Size: 203.9×125.1 cm

Artwork in selections: 31 selections