Napoleon’s great cultural charade
Many of his contemporaries suspected that he harboured no genuine love for the arts. So why was Napoleon so desperate to project himself as a connoisseur of culture? Alan Forrest investigates
One of Jacques-Louis David’s most famous paintings (shown above) depicts Napoleon in his study at the Tuileries Palace. It dates from 1812, the year of his most ambitious foreign adventure, the ill-fated Russian campaign. Yet it has little to do with war. Instead it shows a slightly wearied emperor leaning against the desk after the labours of the day.