"Napoleon on the Battlefield of Eylau"
oil on canvas
Paris, France: Musée du Louvre
Napoleon was very concerned with what people would think of this battle. He wanted people to think of it as a victory. He felt he had to account for the terrible losses and to explain that the purpose of the battle was to attain peace with strength. The self-proclaimed emperor was no stranger to gatekeeping. Like Louis XIV, Napoleon used all kinds of techniques to control and shape how people thought about their ruler and events of their time. He personally controlled France's press, police system, government and foreign policy all the while leading military maneuvers to expand his empire into Western and Central Europe.
About one month after the battle, rumors were circulating in Paris about the losses and about Napoleon's leadership. He wanted to control the perceptions of the people, so he planted stories in the newspapers and staged a competition. Directed by Denon in 1807, the competition provided the winner with a commission to paint "Napoleon on the Battlefield of Eylau." This was Napoleon's way of putting his version of the battle in front of the people and keeping it there.
Gros won the competition. His painting of the Battle of Eylau was done in about two years, 1807 to 1808. He created a dazzlingly deceptive painting, which was dramatic even in its size, measuring 17.5 feet by 26.25 feet. The painting depicts the bloody battle, which took place in what is considered the worst weather of the era. This commissioned painting belongs to the Louvre collection, while Gros' work that won the competition belongs to the Toledo Museum of Art.
November 10, 1997 -- FROM: Vicki L. Kroll: "An American in Paris - that's Dr. Marc S. Gerstein, University of Toledo associate professor of art history. He is the only American invited to work on an exhibition slated to open at the Musee [sic] du Louvre in Paris in 1999." http://www.utnews.utoledo.edu/Archives/1997/gerstein.html.
Copyright (c) ThinkQuest 2001 Team C0110901. http://library.thinkquest.org/C0110901/optimized/gallery.html.
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