pages 55 verso and 54 recto © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
Jacques-Louis David, French (Paris 1748 - 1825 Brussels)
Napoleon Crowning Josephine (recto and verso)
Work Type
drawing, sketchbook page
Physical Descriptions
Graphite and black crayon on off-white antique laid paper; verso: black crayon
21 x 16.4 cm (8 1/4 x 6 7/16 in.)
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Bequest of Grenville L. Winthrop
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art
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Label Text: 32Q: 2200 19th Century , written 2014
In 1799, Napoleon Bonaparte staged a coup d’état and declared himself First Consul, or leader of France; five years later, the Senate named him emperor. By commissioning and skillfully deploying heroic images of himself across the empire, Napoleon astutely consolidated and propagated his power. Antoine-Jean Gros’s drawing relates to one of three paintings Napoleon commissioned from the painter for the cities of Paris, Lyon, and Rouen. It celebrates the First Consul’s brokerage of the Treaty of Amiens, which briefly restored peace with England and temporarily reinstated their trade agreements. Napoleon commissioned Gros’s teacher, Jacques-Louis David, to paint the official image of his coronation ceremony at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, which resulted in an immense canvas nearly 33 feet tall and 20 feet wide. David filled sketchbooks with careful drawings of all of the figures for his painting, two of which are seen here. Prints made images of Napoleon’s majesty available to a wide range of collectors and patrons; the engraving by Auguste Gaspard Louis Boucher Desnoyers reproduces a tapestry that was woven with the same image as an official portrait of the emperor painted by François-Pascal-Simon Gérard. Not all images of Napoleon were celebratory, however. George Cruikshank’s satiric portrayal reveals the contempt his military campaigns engendered. The hand-colored etching refers to Napoleon’s failed Russian Campaign of 1812, which weakened the French army and continental dominance.

Publication History

Agnes Mongan, ed., One Hundred Master Drawings, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, 1949), p. 128, repr. (55 verso and 54 recto)

Bernard Noël, L. David, Crown Publishers Inc. (New York, NY, 1989), repr. p. 63 (pages 54 verso and 53 recto)

Pierre Rosenberg and Louis-Antoine Prat, Jacques-Louis David 1748-1825: Catalogue raisonné des dessins, Leonardo Arte (Milan, 2002), cat. no. 1676, repr. recto and verso

Miriam Stewart, "Curating Sketchbooks: Interpretation, Preservation, Display", Recto Verso: Redefining the Sketchbook, ed. Angela Bartram, Nader El-Bizri, and Douglas Gittens, Ashgate Publishing (Surrey, England and Burlington, VT, 2014), 163-175, p. 166 and repr. as fig. 12.2

Ewa Lajer-Burcharth and Elizabeth M. Rudy, ed., Drawing: The Invention of a Modern Medium, exh. cat., Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, 2017), p. 141, repr. p. 142 as fig. 6

Exhibition History

32Q: 2220 18th-19th Century, Harvard Art Museums, 11/01/2014 - 03/11/2015

Drawing: The Invention of a Modern Medium, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 01/21/2017 - 05/07/2017

Subjects and Contexts

Google Art Project

Related Works

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