9 October 2020

Fake news

Napoléon Bonaparte was shrewdly aware of the impact of images, and would commission paintings depicting him in scenes that never quite happened that way, for prosperity.

Napoléon Visiting the Plague-Stricken in Jaffa (Antoine-Jean Gros) - During The Egyptian Campaign Napoléon's troops contracted the deadly, and highly contagious, Black Plague, decimating their numbers. But Napoléon wanted history to remember him as a loving leader willing to touch their open sores, risking his own life.

 Napoléon on the Battlefield at Eylau (Antoine-Jean Gros) - This painting of the French army's bloody victory in eastern Prussia detracts from the humiliating defeat to come during the harsh winter. In this painting Napoléon had the artist portray him as a much-adored compassionate hero whose (handsome) officers and soldiers attend to (grizzly) wounded Prussians.
The Coronation of Napoléon (Jacques-Louis David) - Napoleon's mother, seated on a throne under green curtains in the middle of the painting, was not there. Other on-purpose inaccuracies also occur in this painting which is supposed to reflect an actual historical event.


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