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Baron Antoine-Jean Gros, Napoleon Bonaparte Visiting the Pest House in Jaffa, 1804, oil on canvas, 209 x 280 inches (Musée du Louvre, Paris) Speakers: Dr. Beth Harris and Dr. Steven Zucker
Note: Gros was a student of the Neo-Classical painter David, however, this painting, sometimes also titled, Napoleon Visiting the Pest House in Jaffa, is a proto-Romantic painting that points to the later style of Gericault and Delacroix. Gros was trained in David's studio between 1785-1792, and is most well known for recording Napoleon's military campaigns, which proved to be ideal subjects for exploring the exotic, violent, and heroic. In this painting, which measures more than 17 feet high and 23 feet wide, Gros depicted a legendary episode from Napoleon's campaigns in Egypt (1798-1801). On March 21, 1799, in a make-shift hospital in Jaffa, Napoleon visited his troops who were stricken with the Bubonic Plague. Gros depicts Napoleon attempting to calm the growing panic about contagion by fearlessly touching the sores of one of the plague victims. Like earlier neoclassical paintings such as David's Death of Marat, Gros combines Christian iconography, in this case Christ healing the sick, with a contemporary subject. He also draws on the art of classical antiquity, by depicting Napoleon in the same position as the ancient Greek sculpture, the Apollo Belvedere. In this way, he imbues Napoleon with divine qualities while simultaneously showing him as a military hero. But in contrast to David, Gros uses warm, sensual colors and focuses on the dead and dying who occupy the foreground of the painting. We see the same approach later in Delacroix's painting ofLiberty Leading the People (1830). Napoleon was a master at using art to manipulate his public image. In reality he had ordered the death of the prisoners who he could not afford to house or feed, and poisoned his troops who were dying from the plague as he retreated from Jaffa.. Created by Beth Harris and Steven Zucker.
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- I thought the Salon was held every other year in odd numbered years. How could there have been one in 1804? Was it specifically for propaganda between Napoleon's being proclaimed Emperor in May and his coronation in December?(8 votes)
- From Wikipedia: "The Salon (French: Salon), or rarely Paris Salon (French: Salon de Paris), beginning in 1725 was the official art exhibition of the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris, France. Between 1748–1890 it was the greatest annual or biannual art event in the Western world."(8 votes)
- They are talking about black death right(2 votes)
- At first, I thought Napoleon was just a made-up character from a famous book. Guess I was wrong about that. It mentions at1:29that Napoleon actually did "bad" things but the paintings covered that up by making him look like "a divine leader". And tell me if I'm right- Napoleon made artists paint paintings that depicted him like this so he could rule better and use art as a way to increase his wealth/status? Or am I wrong?
- Yes, I believe you are correct in assuming that. Many of the works Napoleon commissioned over-glorified not only the situation, but took large creative license when portraying his person. This seems to happen a lot in historical paintings. In this case, think of it as like a kind of propaganda tactic. It helped strengthen the people's devotion to him.(0 votes)
- Does an artist have to be expressive in order to be noticed? Because that is all I see when I see art. Does anyone agree?(0 votes)
- In order to get noticed, impressive or flashy does get attention. Obviously white on white is not that, and it gets plenty of notice. Maybe for its lack of; by comparison.(2 votes)