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In this course, Napoleonic paintings, we will examine a range of Napoleonic imagery by David, Gros and a number of other artists, beginning with comparatively simple single-figure portraits and moving on to elaborate narrative compositions, such as Jaffa and Eylau. In so doing, we will have three main aims: to develop your skills of visual analysis; to examine the relationship between art and politics; and to introduce you to some of the complex issues involved in interpreting works of art.

Course learning outcomes

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • Analyze paintings centered on the human figure in terms of how a work’s form and content together produce its meaning
  • Explain how and why French painting came to be used and controlled by the Napoleonic regime
  • Discuss the problems of interpretation raised by Gros’s Napoleonic paintings
  • Locate Napoleonic painting within the broad shift from Neoclassicism to Romanticism in French art.

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