French Painting of Napoleon’s Empire and Beyond


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This course takes a look at the long arc of the nineteenth century in France and the rise of new distinctive styles of painting and other artworks. We will see how Neoclassicism, Romanticism, and Orientalism reflected the ambitions, achievements, and imagination of Napoleon’s Empire and how these styles adapted in service to the changing political landscape to follow: the Bourbon Restoration, Revolution, and the foundation of the French Republic. From David and Ingres to Gericault and Courbet, we will chart the changing concepts of what accepted paintings could depict and how they could function for different governments and social classes; in this course, we will see how iconography in painting empowered an emperor and the common peasant in the emerging French identity of this decisive century.