General Bonaparte at the Conseil des Cinq-Cents at Saint-Cloud, 10 November, 1799
Versailles, Musée National du Château
This, the best-known representation of the coup d’etat, was a commission by king Louis-Philippe for the Musée Historique de Versailles, an institution founded in 1837 with the aim of fostering national reconciliation. The painting shows the critical moment when Bonaparte, shouted down by the Conseil des Cinq-Cents, jostled and threatened, is finally forced out of the audience chamber by some grenadiers. A military intervention thus became necessary in order to begin the parliamentary coup d’etat.
That the work was exhibited at the Salon of 1840, the year of the ‘Retour des Cendres’ (when Napoleon’s corpse was repatriated from Saint Helena to Paris), gives evidence for the resurgence of the Napoleonic legend during the July Monarchy.