6 de junho de 2011

Jacques-Louis David - Napoleon at Saint Bernard Passage

Napoleon at Saint Bernard Passage - 1801
Kunsthistorisches Museum - Belvedere - Vienna

Jacques-Louis David (1748-1825) was the ultimate political artist. He was a fervent advocate of the French Revolution (1789-99), almost losing his life on the guillotine. Then, in the next wave of political events, he became an equally enthusiastic supporter of Napoleon Bonaparte, using his talent to glorify the new Emperor. This painting commemorates Napoleon’s journey across the Alps in 1800, leading his army on the invasion of northern Italy. The scene was chosen by Bonaparte himself, and instructed the artist to show him “calm, mounted on a fiery steed”. The Emperor’s features are idealized, largely because he refused to attend any sitting. As a result, David had to ask his son to sit at the top of a ladder in order to capture the pose. The costume was more accurate, however, as the artist was able to borrow the uniform that Napoleon had worn at the Battle of Marengo in 1800. First and foremost, David’s painting serves as an icon of imperial majesty. The horse’s mane and the emperor’s cloak, billowing widly in a howling gale, lend a sense of grandeur to the composition while, carved on the rocks below, are the names of Hannibal and Charlemagne (Karolus Magnus) – two other victorious generals who had led their armies across the Alps. As with all the best propaganda, the truth was rather more prosaic. Napoleon had in actually made the journey in fine weather conditions. Similarly, although David based the rearing horse on an equestrian statue of Peter the Great, in reality Napoleon had ridden across the Alps on a mule.
Source: Iain Zaczek and Wikipedia

Sem comentários: