Monday, September 30, 2013

Napoleon After the Battle of Aspern-Essling (1812)

Charles Meynier: Napoleon After the Battle of Aspern-Essling, 22 May 1809

In the Battle of Aspern-Essling (21–22 May 1809), Napoleon attempted a forced crossing of the Danube near Vienna, but the French and their allies were driven back by the Austrians under Archduke Charles. The battle was the first time Napoleon had been personally defeated in over a decade, but it was no more than a tactical victory for the Austrians, who failed to capitalise on their superior numbers and merely repulsed Napoleon, without defeating him.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Portrait of a Young Girl (1812)

Pierre-Narcisse Guerin: Portrait of a Young Girl

This simple portrait is probably the most erotically charged painting I have ever seen - without being overdone or pornographic. Just a beautiful piece of art (and a nice counterpoint to yesterday's bombastic portrait of Napoleon).

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Meeting of Napoleon and Francis II after the Battle of Austerlitz (ca. 1812)

Antoine-Jean Gros: The Meeting of Napoleon and Francis II after the Battle of Austerlitz

A meeting of the victor and the vanquished after Napoleon's greatest victory.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Surrender of Mantua, 2 February 1797 (1812)

Hippolyte Lecomte: Surrender of Mantua, 2 February 1797, 
General Wurmser meets General Sérurier

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Episode from the Retreat from Russia (1812)

Nicolas Toussaint Charlet: Episode from the Retreat from Russia

The retreat of the French army from Russia ranks as one of the most disastrous episodes for the French during the Napoleonic era and solidified Russia's faith in "General Winter" as one of their country's greatest allies.

The painter, Charlet (1798-1845) was another in the body of French painters whose military service greatly influenced their art.

Monday, September 23, 2013

First distribution of the Legion of Honor at the Eglise des Invalides (1812)

Jean-Baptiste Debret: First distribution of the Legion of Honor 
at the Eglise des Invalides, by the Emperor, 14 July 1804

The Legion d'Honneur celebrated with great ceremony those soldiers who had distinguished themselves in battle. The generation of boys represented by the children's battallions at the Fête de la Fédération in 1790 had grown up to serve in Napoleon's armies and aspire to the nation's highest honors, like those distributed at the first Legion of Honor ceremony in 1804. While these younger men were decorated by Napoleon at the Invalides, the elderly and disabled veterans who lived there benefited little from this imperial pomp. As Jean-Baptiste Debret dramatizes in his painting, these Invalides veterans merely looked on from the shadows, relegated to the background of imperial and ceremonial priorities. [Napoleonic Friendship: Military Fraternity, Intimacy & Sexuality in Nineteenth Century France, Brian Joseph Martin, University Press of New England, 2011, p. 155]

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Entrance to the Turkish Garden Café (1812)

Louis-Léopold Boilly: The Entrance to the Turkish Garden Café

Crisply painted and teeming with detail, Boilly's picture transports us to Napoleonic Paris, where we stand on a shady boulevard outside the Jardin Turc (Turkish Garden Café), a popular establishment that offered its middle-class clientele pleasures formerly reserved for the aristocracy. Young and old, fashionable and not, Parisians gather here for an afternoon's leisure. Two young street performers entertain the crowd: one shows an elegant couple his tame marmot, while the other puts on a puppet show for children hardly younger than himself.

A resident of the Marais neighborhood, in which the scene takes place, Boilly included a self-portrait, in spectacles and a top hat, at the painting's rightmost edge.  [Getty Museum]

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Judgment of Paris (1812)

Guillaume Guillon-Lethière: The Judgment of Paris

Another treatment of this mythological subject. There's mischievous Hermes hovering at upper right, having set the whole thing in motion. Of course Paris is shown choosing the goddess with the least amount of clothing (Aphrodite)!

The painter, Guillon-Lethière (1760-1832) was a Neoclassic artist.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

French Army Bivouac in Aswan, Egypt (1812)

Jean-Charles Tardieu: French Army Bivouac in Aswan, Egypt

Tardieu (1769-1830) found success as a painter of historical scenes during the Napoleonic and Restoration eras.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

François I and Charles V Visiting the Church of Saint-Denis (1812)

Antoine-Jean Gros: François I and Charles V Visiting the Church of Saint-Denis

This historical scene of the 16th century depicts the French king (Francis or François) and the Holy Roman Emperor (Charles V) hobnobbing at a church.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Monday, September 16, 2013

Morpheus and Iris (1811)

Pierre-Narcisse Guérin: Morpheus and Iris

Morpheus was the Greek god of dreams (morphine is named after him).

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Portrait of Joséph Bonaparte (ca. 1811)

Robert Lefèvre: Portrait of Joséph Bonaparte

Another one of those Bonaparte boys...

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Friday, September 13, 2013

Portrait of Count Antoine Français de Nantes (1811)

Jacques-Louis David: Portrait of Count Antoine Français de Nantes, State Counsellor

Towards the end of his eventful life (any life in which one survives both the French Revolution and the era of Napoleon is by definition eventful) this man was named a "Peer of France".

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Marriage of Napoleon I and Marie Louise (1811)

Georges Rouget: Marriage of Napoleon I and Marie Louise, 2 April 1810

Napoleon's marriage to Louise has been touched on here before. This painting, though smaller in scope, is strangely reminiscent of David's gigantic Coronation. Perhaps the fact that Rouget was a favored pupil of David and had close connections with him explains the similarity.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Charles XIV John as Crown Prince of Sweden 1811

François Gérard: Charles XIV John as Crown Prince of Sweden

There's an interesting story behind the "French King of Sweden". One of Napoleon's generals, Jean Bernadotte found himself acclaimed king of Sweden (apparently the Swedes were in need of a monarch). He took to the role wholeheartedly, placing Sweden's interests above all others and even, ultimately, outmaneuvering Napoleon himself. The dynasty established by Jean Bernadotte rules Sweden to this day - pretty good for a small-town boy from southern France!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Napoleon Hunting in the Forest (1811)

Carle Vernet: Napoleon Hunting in the Forest

Of course Napoleon went hunting. It was a time-honored way for monarchs to prove their manhood (second only to waging war, of course).

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Scene de Cabaret

Louis-Léopold Boilly: Scene de Cabaret

Having finished the first decade of the 19th century, for the rest of this week I'll post some undated paintings, starting with this, another gem from Boilly.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Napoleon Wounded Before Ratisbonne (1810)

Pierre-Claude Gautherot: Napoléon Wounded Before Ratisbonne

The Battle of Ratisbon took place on April 23, 1809. A French victory, somewhat ameliorated by the escape of a large portion of the Austrian army - and a minor wound inflicted on Napoleon's ankle by a piece of shrapnel.