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Hippolyte Paul Delaroche (1797-1856)

Napoleon crossing the Alps, May 1800 Signed and dated 1853

RCIN 404874

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In 1800 Napoleon crossed the Alps to Italy, planning to surprise the Austrian army. The journey became a popular subject for contemporary propaganda, which imagined the emperor making the journey on a white charger. Painted over thirty years after Napoleon's death, Delaroche offered a more accurate version of the scene: a pensive Napoleon riding a solid and sure-footed mule, led by a local guide. However, the touches of gold protruding from Napoleon's drab grey overcoat and on his hat hint at the imperial ambition underlying this journey. It is echoed by the gold of the mule's tack and the guide's headscarf.