baron Antoine-Jean Gros

Napoleon Bonaparte on the Bridge at Arcole

Napoleon Bonaparte on the Bridge at Arcole
(click image to zoom-in)
Author: baron Antoine-Jean Gros
Portraiture, Painting, Oil on canvas, 134x104 cm
Origin: France, Late 1796 - early 1797

On 17 November 1796, at a battle near Arcole, the then General Bonaparte threw himself first into the fray to storm a bridge occupied by the Austrian army, thus moving forward his soldiers, who had fallen back. Napoleon's act led to a French victory.

This painting of this historic event was based on the artist's personal impressions - he accompanied Bonaparte on the Italian campaign and was an eyewitness of all that happened. David's favourite pupil, Gros embodied in the image of Napoleon the classical ideal of a strong, wilful individual. The figure strains forward, face cold and calm, with a tense gaze emphasizing the hero's decisiveness and bravery. At the same time, in combining a battle scene with a portrait of a hero of the people, Gros's painting is suffused with a mood which foreshadows the Romantic era, reflected in the dynamic colour and light and shade contrasts, the intersection of diagonal lines and movements, and the temperamental painting manner.

Personage: Napoleon Bonaparte
Style: Neo-Classicism
Source of entry: via the State Museum Fund from the collection of the Duke of Leuchtenberg, Leningrad, 1924
Theme: History
Exibition: French Art: 19th - 20th centuries

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