Tuesday, December 2, 2014

NAPOLEON I CROWNED ~ December 2, 1804

The coronation of Napoleon I as Emperor of the French, which took place on Sunday December 2, 1804 (11 Frimaire XIII according to French Republican Calendar), has been said to mark "the instantiation of modern empire", representing "both an appeal to ostensibly timeless tradition and a transparently masterminded piece of modern propaganda" On May 18, 1804, the French Senate vested the Republican government in an Emperor, and preparations for a coronation followed. Among Napoleon's reasons for coronation were the prestige in international royalist and Catholic milieux and the foundation for future dynasty.

In the classical French tradition kings underwent consecration (sacre) rather than a coronation because of anointment, conferred by the archbishop of Reims. Napoleon blended Roman imperial pageantry with the purported memory of Charlemagne and the coronation was held in Paris in the presence of Pope Pius VII. According to government tallies, the entire cost was over 8,5 million francs.

Image & text:wikipedia.com

Whenever I go to Paris, I make a point of going to the Louvre. And whenever I go to the Louvre, I make a point of viewing Jacques-Louis David's monumental painting of Napoleon's coronation. There are other works of art I seek out as well, but I do enjoy seeing the David, and am always amazed at its scale.

One negative reaction to the coronation was Beethoven's scratching out the dedication of his third symphony to Napoleon. Beethoven angrily concluded that Napoleon had forsaken the ideals of the French Revolution. A good case could be made that he had.

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Titian in the Frari (Venezia)