The Emperor Napoleon in His Study at the Tuileries

The Emperor Napoleon in His Study at the Tuileries Painting by Jacques Louis David

The Emperor Napoleon in His Study at the Tuileries by Jacques Louis David

The Emperor Napoleon in His Study at the Tuileries by Jacques Louis David was produced in 1812 and is considered to be one of the famous artworks of Neo Classicism movement. The work can be viewed now at National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., United States.


Medium: Oil Painting 

Subject(s): portrait, uniform


The Emperor Napoleon in His Study at the Tuileries is an oil painting produced in 1812 by French painter Jacques Louis David.

This was one of the paintings, known for David’s success as a painter. Napoleon didn’t pose for this portrait despite this the details of the picture are astonishing.

Napoleon is the main focus of the picture in vertical canvas dressed in his uniform as a colonel of the Foot Grenadiers of the Imperial Guard (color was blue which contains white facings along with red cuffs). He also wears his Legion d’honneur and Order of the Iron Crown decorations. Napoleon face is turned towards the viewer and his right hand inserted into his vest. The office of Napoleon was on the first floor, the right hand of the Tuileries which contains a wooden chair decorated in red velvet and gold embroidery and a desk of empire style decorated on it with a lion’s head. There are several things on the desk including a pen, several books, dossiers and papers rolled up. A map is shown on the green carpet with more rolled papers to the left of the desk in this picture. The papers contains painter’s signature LVDci DAVID OPVS 1812.

The painting shows many details including Napoleon’s unbuttoned cuffs, wrinkled stockings, disheveled hair and time on the clock to be exact 4.13 am. All of this implies that he has been up all night writing code Napoléon as on the desk the word “Code” is prominent on the rolled papers. This portrait maintains Napoleon’s new civil image rather than heroic or military though the sword still refers back to his military successes which were on the chair’s armrest.

The second version of this painting was painted by Louis, both were identical but the difference is that Napoleon was in more green mounted chasseurs uniform. This version was in Prince Napoleon’s collection since 1979 been in that of the Château de Versailles. David, the artist re-edited several composition, details several times which an analysis of the original painting reveals, to balance the image, add allusions, and capture a complete story.

The work can be viewed at National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.



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