Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Neoclassicism (pt. 8)

Anyway, that is the type of style we see in Neoclassical art.  Meanwhile, Napoleon, as newly self-appointed Emperor of France, hires Jacques-Louis David as his official court painter and commissions him to paint a number of flattering portraits.  One such famous portrait the artist made was of Napoleon in His Study, which made use of vertical lines to exaggerate the emperor's height.  In reality, Napoleon was a very short man, but the vertical length of this painting makes us constantly gaze up and down like an elevator changing floors.  The column on the left, the grandfather clock on the right, the table leg behind, and the chair leg in front of him are all vertical lines, pointing our eye, in a way, all along the height of the work.  Napoleon himself, clothed in white, appears vastly larger than he almost assuredly would have looked in person.  That is one reason why this painting is another example of propaganda; it seeks to impress upon us an exaggerated and biased image of Napoleon as a great emperor.  Also, look at the clock; it's four in the morning!  But Napoleon has his candle lit and is hard at work in his study even at this hour, shown to be toiling far into the night for the well-being of his people.  David certainly knew how to paint his emperor well.

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