Battle of Austerlitz, 2 December, 1805

Artist(s) : GERARD François (baron)
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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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