Friday, June 30, 2006

Napoleon in Liverpool

Paul Delaroche's Napoleon Crossing the Alps, circa 1848.

from the Walker Gallery's notes:

Perhaps surprisingly, there were many admirers of Napoleon in Britain, associating his memory either with enlightened progress in opposition to reactionary monarchy or alternatively with military genius. His brutal suppression of nations, huge military losses and genocidal colonial policy were somehow glossed over.
This painting was commissioned by Arthur George, 3rd Earl of Onslow, who was a passionate collector of Napoleonic material. Queen Victoria also owned one of the several versions of this picture .The story of the picture's genesis is curious. The Earl of Onslow was walking with Delaroche in the Louvre one day in 1848. Standing in front of David's famous painting of Napoleon Crossing the Alps he commented on how implausibly theatrical it was and requested Delaroche to do the same subject in a more accurate way.