DAVID, Jacques-Louis
(b. 1748, Paris, d. 1825, Bruxelles)

Consecration of the Emperor Napoleon I (detail)

Oil on canvas
Musée du Louvre, Paris

While painting the Consecration David was faced with the problem of selecting the most significant moment of the ceremony to commemorate. At first, he planned to show Napoleon raising Josephine's crown above his own crowned head while pressing his ceremonial sword close to his heart. The emphasis on the sword may be an invention of David's to emphasize Napoleon's heroism and chivalry. In the final work, Napoleon is shown raising the crown in both hands before placing it on Josephine's head and the sword now appears on Napoleon's left side in the opening of his mantle.