Jean Dominique Ingres is one of the greatest neoclassical painters in Europe. But it is also an exceptional example of a branch of Neoclassicism that occurred exclusively in France, we are talking about the Empire style, which was triggered by the triumphant figure of Napoleón Bonaparte. Which he paints here as the mighty emperor he became. And in fact, this canvas of Napoleon Emperor could not be in a better place than its current location: the Museum of the Armed Forces of Paris.
Napoleon Emperor of Ingres
However, it must be said that what is known as the Empire style lasted longer than the emperor himself, since his forms lasted until the middle of the century. And it was that it consisted of a fusion between the sobriety typical of the more academic art with the luxury brought by the military and political splendor of France.
You have to keep in mind that France came from the revolutionary period, where austerity was the norm. However, with the Napoleonic conquests, this was gradually transformed into ostentation and also into a lot of officialdom. Thus arises an art whose main objective is to ex alt power, something that is going to be done thanks to the most sumptuous forms and materials. Because the Empire style not only reached the more traditional arts such as painting and sculpture, it also affected the artsdecorative, interior design, furniture and even clothing. And so this image of Napoleon is a good example. Since he wears velvet or ermine fur, in addition to countless accessories made of precious materials.
By the way, many of these elements were directly related to the image of the Roman emperors, such as the laurel wreath or the sceptres of command. And of course, this is something that fit perfectly with the neoclassical taste of the time.
The truth is that in this canvas from 1806, Ingres knew how to perfectly capture the tastes and also the character of the French emperor. And of course a painting of these characteristics, so ostentatious and official, immediately collides with the image we may have of other works by this great master of painting, such as his beautiful Odalisque, or his famous Turkish Bath. Although it is true that Ingres had a great ability to paint works of the most varied genres, since he made excellent portraits of the bourgeoisie and aristocracy of the time, or painted great heroic figures in the history of France such as Joan of Arc.