A very distinct difference between A and B, is that A shows that Napoleon in a different light, as a power hungry and power crazed man and the phrase “..absolute power corrupts absolutely..” applies very perfectly in this painting. His paintings have evolved from the purpose of propaganda for the revolution and promoting his image as a hard-working and patriotic man to promoting his power, wealth and less than subtle military process in this painting, and it also shows a rather discrete relation to the paintings that the Bourbon Kings may have commissioned to have been painted for them.
Painting B was painted in 1804, before Napoleon became corrupted with the power and wealth that comes with his position and interprets his character as a hard-working man, with equality to others. Painting A was created in 1806 two years after painting B, and it confirms the results of his corruption and changed character and perspective.
B shows Napoleon with the attributes previously stated, a hard-working and patriotic man. This painting shows that he is hard working by painting him in his study, thus perhaps suggesting that he had a decent and educational upbringing. Another aspect in this painting that shows that he is hard-working is that his right hand is on a stack of papers on the Napoleonic Code that he perhaps just finished writing, showing that he is different from the Bourbon Kings, who could not and would not do any administrations.
B shows that Napoleon is patriotic because of many reasons. One, being that his clothing colour is one of the patriotic colours of France (red, white and blue are the patriotic colours of France). Two, being that in the background there is a window overlooking Paris, the rebuilt Notre Dame in particular implying that he is with the people and for the people and of the people. Three, being that his sword hung beside his hip to show that he is always prepared to defend his country against any menaces.
Painting A’s style is very different style from painting B. Painting B is rather modest and using rich colours, but has less luxurious texture than painting A gives, whereas painting A uses even more magnificent and rich colours and the texture of his clothing and accessories are even more lavish than painting B. we can see a difference in Napoleons face as well, in this painting, his face looks like it has been caked with white powder, much like the Royals used to do, and his face is also much more expression-less than painting B. B at least shows some degree, although quite small, of emotion. His face portrays a rather serious emotion.
The angle of which we view the Napoleon has also changed quite drastically and contradicts one of the Napoleonic Codes that he himself created. In B we are looking at Napoleon on an equal level, showing that although our statuses may not be the same, we are still equal, one of the most important things that the revolution strived to achieve, Egalite (equality). However, in Painting A we are gazing at Napoleon who is sitting above us, on a throne with a range of royal and exquisite items. The change in position clearly indicated the sign of his corruption and the nullification of one of the codes that he created for the people which was that all people shall be treated equally. In this painting we look above to see him, as if he is of a higher class than the people of Paris, above them.
His clothing difference is also very dire as well. His clothing in painting B is modest, and thoroughly middle-class while also representing his support in the Revolution by wearing a Revolution colour (red). The texture of the fabric seems to be rather harshly depicted in the painting, which perhaps was meant to show that he did not spend an unnecessary amount of money buying an over-excessive amount of clothing and other various luxuries like the Royals and the upper-class. The fabric of his clothing is painted in a much more overgenerous manner in painting A than painting B. David paints his fabric with sinuous lines and rich colours. The clothing that he wears in this painting shows his corruption, that he has spent the unnecessary and excessive amount of money for such luxuries.
Another sign of his corruption shown in his costume is the crown that he wears on his head. Crown, symbolizing royalism. Crown, symbolizing that he fancies himself the King Of France, after all the codes that he has created to distill the peoples fears of a dictator, a dictator was still what they have received. He may not obviously be flaunting that he is in fact dictating, but he is still dictating in a more indistinct fashion. He uses clever manipulations of thoughts and opinions about him by a clever use of marketing strategies, which enhances his image and persona and most importantly his rule.
Courtney from Study Moose
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