Napoleon Bonaparte conquered France and Europe in the name of liberté, égalité, et fraternité, but he suppressed freedom to achieve his aims. This was the birth of modern empire, and Frances greatest artists were enlisted for the cause. Staging Empire focuses on two landmark paintings that celebrated Napoleons coronation Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingress Napoleon I on His Imperial Throne (1806) and Jacques-Louis Davids Le Sacre (18057).
In an unprecedented collaboration, two scholars investigate these masterpieces in their broad cultural context. This book is a sumptuously illustrated, extensively documented, analytical tour de force. Coronation pictures may seem to be all about the past, but they were produced to guarantee a future of empire whose military, media, and geopolitical practices are still with us today.
Staging Empire surveys the periods essential problem of representing authority in the aftermath of the French Revolution. Ingress portrait of the new emperor is steeped in archaic symbolism, bolstered by the cult of recently minted relics. The pictures strangeness, the presss withering critiques, and the governments anxious sponsorship are explored.
The discussion lays bare the precariousness of modern art and politics and the dangers of cultural independence in the public sphere. Traditionally accepted as a document of the coronation of Napoleon and Josephine, Le Sacre is instead shown to be the most important barometer of the Empires propagandistic strategies. The authors present it in light of Josephines central role and of its critical reception in newspapers and the hitherto untapped archives of Napoleons secret police.
Le Sacre heralded an age of phony governmental transparency. Modern cultural practices, including consumerism, repressive theories of race and gender, and art history itself, were marshaled by the emperors official painter.