Analysis of the Coronation of Napoleon

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Analysis of the Coronation of Napoleon

By | October 2008
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The Coronation that Shook the World
The Coronation of Napoleon by Jacques-Louis David is imposing in its dimensions. It stands at twenty feet by thirty feet and is displayed in the main gallery of the Louvre museum in Paris. David began this work of art after being orally commissioned by Napoleon in September of 1804. The painting came to its completion November of 1807. The sole fact that the painting took three years to complete demonstrates something about the magnitude and scale of the painting. This was all done on purpose of course in order to record this significant moment in the emperor’s life. Works of art are not entirely meant to be aesthetically pleasing The Coronation of Napoleon was commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte in order to magnify the image of one man: himself. As stated in the book, Art History by Marilyn Strokstad, the coronation was a grandiose event lasting about three hours in length but Napoleon commissioned his personal artist, David, to record the event for prosperity. This painting shows David’s interpretation of an event that clearly was the beginning of a historically significant period in history. One man is represented as emperor and a form of demigod all at once. Through the various artistic techniques used by Jacques-Louis David, we can infer the importance and historical significance of Napoleon Bonaparte. The first aspect that is significantly noticeable in the painting is that of the occupancy at the cathedral. The ceremony took place at the Cathedral of Notre Dame, the most famous cathedral in France. Strokstad’s book states that it was a cold day in Paris and the temperature inside the Cathedral was warm due to the fact that there were so many bodies present. David wanted to emphasize this in the painting in order to demonstrate Napoleon’s popularity. He does this by portraying every person in detail and David cuts the painting off at some point, but he leaves the continuation of the crowd to the viewers’ imagination....
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