An international scholarly online history journal on First and Second Empire subjects: articles, bibliographies, book reviews, in english and in french

Delve deeper into Napoleonic history here in our section on the history of the two empires. Alongside a section for those just starting, there are many articles, images with commentary, close-ups and special dossiers for the serious Napoleonic enthusiast.

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Battle of Austerlitz, 2 December, 1805

Artist: GERARD François (Baron)

Technique: oil on canvas

Dimensions : H. 5.10 m; W. 9.58 m

Place:Versailles, Musée National du Château

Subjects: Austerlitz (battle of), Austerlitz (campaign of)


Commissioned as a commemoration of the Grande Armée's most famous battle and shown at the Salon of 1810, this gigantic painting was originally destined for the ceiling of the hall in which the Conseil d'Etat met. It shows the solemn moment of victory - General Rapp presents to an Olympian Napoleon the standards taken from the enemy. Though broad and balanced, the composition is nevertheless complicated, not to say overloaded, with Gérard here showing his limits as a history painter. That being said, the "Sun of Austerlitz" irradiates the entire work with a almost supernatural brilliance which perfectly matches the symbolic weight attached to the date, 2 December, as regards the Napoleonic epic.   K.H. trans. P.H.  


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