Pictures with character

Updated: Sep 5, 2023 By Lin Qi CHINA DAILY Print
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Portrait of Napoleon I, by the workshop of Francois Gerard. LIN QI/CHINA DAILY

Napoleon is the most portrayed figure at the exhibition, with the four paintings produced by different reputed European artists. This includes one from 1810 showing a serious Napoleon reading a letter by candlelight, one of the several portraits he commissioned from Pietro Benvenuti, a successful Italian painter.

Paintings depicting Napoleon dressed in his coronation finery, commissioned to commemorate his ascension to emperor, mark a classic theme among his portraiture. The exhibition shows two such, significant, examples: one, a side profile, by the workshop of Anne-Louis Girodet-Trioson, and the other, a front-facing piece, by the workshop of Francois Gerard.

The latter resembles another portrait, a full-body work also by Gerard, which Napoleon favored so much that he commissioned reproductions of it as gifts for his prominent officials, as well as an exquisite woven tapestry copy, which now resides in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

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