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Napoleon, 1805

Nicolas Toussaint Charlet

European Art

This engraving shown Napoleon in his coronation attire, which includes a laurel-wreath crown, a lace tie, and ermine-trimmed velvet robe embroidered with golden bees as emblems of the earliest French sovereigns. Around his neck he wears the collar of the Legion of Honor, a distinction he established in 1802 to recognize individual civil and military merit. The collar features a chain of imperial eagles—ancient symbols of military might—with a capital N in the center, from which hangs the Legion of Honor insignia bearing a Roman-style portrait of Napoleon.

In late 1804, Napoleon was named Emperor fo the French at a grand coronation inside Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris. The occasion, during which Napoleon took the crown from Pope Pius VII and placed it atop his own head, was painted by David in 1807, who focused instead on the moment the new emperor crowned his wife, Joséphine, as empress (see illustration).
MEDIUM Lithograph on wove paper
DIMENSIONS Sheet: 11 3/4 x 8 5/8 in. (29.8 x 21.9 cm)
MARKINGS "Imp. Bertaut Paris" lower left composition
SIGNATURE Signed, "Charlet" lower right in stone
CREDIT LINE Bequest of Marion Reilly
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
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