Napoleon I on his Imperial Throne Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
Email: [email protected] / Phone: +44 7429 011000

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres completed Napoleon I on his Imperial Throne in 1806 and it remains one of the artist's most complex and historically significant paintings.

Napoléon Ier sur le trône impérial, to use its original French title, was a particularly large work, measuring 259cm tall by 162cm wide. This detailed painting captures the Coronation of Napoleon, with him sat on a beautifully crafted throne. Every single last element of the subject's outfit is included, even down to the decorative finish to his shoes. His throne is placed above a rug which rolls over the steps in front of him. There are symbolically two sceptres in this scene, underlining his power and position. The sceptre of Justice is lent against his left hand, whilst he confidentally holds up the sceptre of Charlemagne in his right hand.

Everything about the subject's attire is grand. A laurel wreath is placed on his head, his tunic is embroidered to an extraordinary level of detail whilst he also wears a velvet clock that has been adorned with golden bees. The detail right across this composition is endless, we have included a more detailed image of the painting at the bottom of the page so that more of this detail can be appreciated. The work that has gone into this painting is equivalent to the importance of the subject. Any French artist who was asked to produce a portrait of Napoleon I would be filled with a mixture of pride and also anxiety, where such an opportunity must be delivered successfully.

This stunning painting can now be found at the Musée de l'Armée, Hôtel des Invalides, Paris. The reason for its location here is that this venue holds a collection of military-related items, including cannons, sculptures, armour and vehicles. Napoleon's status within French military history makes this Ingres painting a particularly suitable addition. The museum is in Paris, and just one of a number of extraordinary cultural attractions to enjoy in this exciting, multi-layered city. Art-wise the main highlights in Paris remain the Louvre and also the Musée d'Orsay.

Famous Portraits of Napoleon I

  • Bonaparte Before the Sphinx by Jean-Léon Gérôme
  • Bonaparte Crossing the Alps by Paul Delaroche
  • The Coronation of Napoleon by Jacques Louis David
  • The Distribution of the Eagle Standards by Jacques Louis David
  • The Emperor Napoleon in His Study at the Tuileries by Jacques Louis David
  • Napoleon Crossing the Alps by Jacques Louis David
  • Napoleon I as Emperor by Francois Gerard
  • Napoleon in the Wilderness by Max Ernst
  • Napoléon on the Battlefield of Eylau by Antoine-Jean Gros
  • War. The Exile and the Rock Limpet by JMW Turner

Napoleon I on his Imperial Throne in Detail Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres