Napoléon on his Imperial Throne
Oil on canvas
Musée de l’Armée, Paris, France
Possibly the most iconic image of Emperor Napoléon I, this painting by Ingres was initially dismissed as overly gothic, barbaric and archaic. The newly crowned emperor is richly adorned mong a mix-together of Byzantine, Roman, and Carolingian symbolry. The intent to legitimise his claim to power and authority is overshadowed by the strange and imposing frontality; Napoléon’s pallid features emerge from layers of ostentatiousness and regal garb to stare past the viewer with a gaze of stone.
Neoclassicism, Romanticism, Orientalism
Born: 29 August 1780, Montauban, France
Died: 14 January 1867, Paris, France
Ingres was a painter with a daring blend of tradition and experimentation with which he reimagined Classical and Renaissance sources for 19th century tastes. He was a talented draughtsman known for his serpentine line and illusionistic textures. His experimental methods were not always successful and earned him harsh criticism from the art establishment in his early career.