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Coronation of Napoleon I, mid 19th Century
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Coronation of Napoleon I, mid 19th Century

Measurements: Overall: 76cm (30in) x 56cm (22in)



An oil on canvas early 19th century study of Baron François-Pascal-Simon Gérard’s  portrait depicting Napoleon attired in coronation robes and regalia in the Throne Room of the Tuileries Palace, the seat of the empire.

The coronation of Napoleon as Emperor of the French, which took place on Sunday December 2, 1804 (11 Frimaire XIII according to the French Republican Calendar), has been said to mark 'the instantiation of modern empire', representing a 'transparently masterminded piece of modern propaganda'. On May 18, 1804, the Sénat conservateur vested the Republican government in an Emperor, and preparations for a coronation followed. Napoleon's elevation to Emperor was overwhelmingly approved by the French citizens in a referendum. Among Napoleon's motivations for being crowned were to gain prestige in international royalist and Catholic milieux and to lay the foundation for a future dynasty.

Gérard’s original portrait was made for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and was the one Napoleon himself preferred over that of his official painter Jacques-Louis David. The popularity of Gérard’s portrait at imperial court is said to be its reliance upon familiar conventions that had been used to portray French kings since Louis XIV.