Friday, June 30, 2006

Napoleon's David

Napoleon Crossing the Alps by Jacques-Louis David (1748-1825), oil on canvas,
(8' 6" x 7' 3"), 1801, Musée national du château de Malmaison.

Should I trust my eyes? I have never seen this painting and this isn't it. I discuss this question below. Just the other day I discussed my impressions of the colors on my (relatively)new flat-screen monitor with young Don Bintz of Fiat Blog!, of how the colors seemed washed out, quite literally flattened. I'd really like to see this painting someday, in person.

Anyway: how are we supposed to perceive the skies? Are they dark or sunny, or both? Is the horse fierce or terrified? And what about the backward tricolor at the bottom right. Doesn't it look like it's trying to leave the scene? Note Hannibal's name on the rocks, below Bonaparte. Does the subject transform the artist? I dunno.