|Bonaparte Crossing the Alps|
|Hippolyte Delaroche, 1850|
|Oil on canvas|
|289 × 222 cm|
|Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, England|
Bonaparte Crossing the Alps (also called Napoleon Crossing the Alps, despite the existence of another painting with that name) is an 1848–1850 oil-on-canvas portrait of Napoleon Bonaparte, by French artist Hippolyte Delaroche. Hippolyte Delaroche, commonly known as Paul Delaroche ( July 17, 1797 &ndash November 4, 1856) was a French painter Oil painting is the process of painting with Pigments that are bound with a medium of Drying oil — especially in early modern Europe Linseed oil The Walker Art Gallery is an art gallery in Liverpool, which houses one of the largest art collections in England outside of London. Napoleon Crossing the Alps (also known as Napoleon at the Saint-Bernard Pass or Bonaparte Crossing the Alps) is the title given Oil painting is the process of painting with Pigments that are bound with a medium of Drying oil — especially in early modern Europe Linseed oil Napoleon Bonaparte (15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821 was a French military and political leader who had a significant impact on the History of Europe. This article is about the country For a topic outline on this subject see List of basic France topics. The definition of an artist is wide-ranging and covers a broad spectrum of Activities to do with creating Art, practicing the Arts and/or demonstrating Hippolyte Delaroche, commonly known as Paul Delaroche ( July 17, 1797 &ndash November 4, 1856) was a French painter  The painting depicts Bonaparte leading his army through the Alps on a mule,[I] a journey Napoleon and his army of soldiers made in the spring of 1800, in an attempt to surprise the Austrian army in Italy.  The two main versions of this painting that exist are in the Louvre in Paris and the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, England. Queen Victoria also obtained a reduced version of it. 
The work was inspired by Jacques-Louis David's series of five Napoleon Crossing the Alps paintings (1801–1805). Jacques-Louis David (August 30 1748 &ndash December 29 1825 was a highly influential French painter in the Neoclassical style considered to be Napoleon Crossing the Alps (also known as Napoleon at the Saint-Bernard Pass or Bonaparte Crossing the Alps) is the title given David's works also show Napoleon's journey through the Great St. Bernard Pass, but there are significant stylistic differences between the two conceptions. Great St Bernard Pass ( Fr Col du Grand-Saint-Bernard, It Colle del Gran San Bernardo) is the most ancient pass through Delaroche's Napoleon is cold and downcast, whereas David's wears a pristine uniform, and is idealized as a hero. Delaroche was commissioned to paint a realistic portrait; the style of which was emerging at the time. Realism in the Visual arts and Literature is the depiction of subjects as they appear in Everyday life, without embellishment or interpretation 
While the painting largely represented—and was one of the pioneers of—an emerging style, the work was criticised by several authorities on the subject. The reasons for this varied from Delaroche's depiction of the scene to a general disapproval of Delaroche himself. Many of those who were in the latter state of mind felt that Delaroche was trying to match the genius of Napoleon in some way, and had failed miserably in doing so. 
As part of his 1798 campaign during the French Revolutionary Wars, Napoleon prepared to invade and conquer Egypt, which was at the time a province of the Ottoman Empire. 1798 was a relatively quiet period in the French Revolutionary Wars. The French Revolutionary Wars were a series of major conflicts from 1792 until 1802 fought between the French Revolutionary government and several European states This article is about the country of Egypt For a topic outline on this subject see List of basic Egypt topics. The Ottoman Empire (1299–1923 ( Old Ottoman Turkish: دولتْ علیّه عثمانیّه Devlet-i Âliye-yi Osmâniyye, Late Ottoman and Modern Turkish  Such a military action promised numerous benefits, including securing French trade interests, and inhibiting British access to India. See also Kingdom of Great Britain Great Britain (Breatainn Mhòr Prydain Fawr Breten Veur Graet Breetain is the larger of the two main islands India, officially the Republic of India (भारत गणराज्य inc-Latn Bhārat Gaṇarājya; see also other Indian languages) is a country By the first of July that same year, Napoleon had landed on the shores of Egypt.  However, after a lengthy chain of conflicts that resulted in heavy casualties, the campaign resulted in an Ottoman-British victory, and Napoleon was forced to return to France. The French Invasion of Egypt (1798-1801 was Napoleon Bonaparte 's unsuccessful campaign in Egypt and Syria to protect French trade
When he arrived, he found that while he was in Egypt, Austrian forces had retaken Italy. Austria (Österreich ( officially the Republic of Austria (Republik Österreich In order to regain the upper hand, he planned to launch a surprise assault on the Austrian army stationed in the Cisalpine Republic. The Cisalpine Republic ( Repubblica Cisalpina) was a French client republic in Northern Italy that lasted from 1797 to 1802. Based on the assumption that the Austrians would never expect Napoleon's large force to be able to traverse the Alps, he chose that as his route.  He selected the shortest route through the Alps, the Great St Bernard Pass, which would enable him to reach his destination as quickly as possible. Great St Bernard Pass ( Fr Col du Grand-Saint-Bernard, It Colle del Gran San Bernardo) is the most ancient pass through 
On May 15, 1800, Napoleon and his army of 40,000—not including the field artillery and baggage trains—(35,000 light artillery and infantry, 5,000 cavalry) began the arduous journey through the mountains. Events 1252 - Pope Innocent IV issues the Papal bull Ad exstirpanda, which authorizes but also limits the Year -of the Julian calendar. The Gregorian calendar was 11 days ahead of the Julian calendar until Friday, but 12 days ahead since Saturday. Field artillery is a category of mobile Artillery used to support armies in the field Artillery (from French artillerie) is a military Combat Arm which employs any apparātus machine The Infantry is the oldest and most numerous of the Combat Arms in the Armed forces, and consists The Cavalry (from French cavalerie) is the second oldest of the Combat Arms, and as Soldiers or Warriors who fought mounted on [II] During the five days spent traversing the pass, Napoleon's army consumed almost 22,000 bottles of wine, more than a tonne and a half of cheese, and around 800 kilograms of meat. 
Following his crossing of the Alps, Napoleon commenced military operations against the Austrian army. Despite an inauspicious start to the campaign, the Austrian forces were driven back to Marengo after nearly a month. There, a a large battle took place on June 14, which resulted in the Austrian evacuation of Italy. In the Battle of Marengo was fought on 14 June 1800 between French forces under Napoleon Bonaparte and Austrian forces near the city of Alessandria Events 1276 - While taking exile in Fuzhou in southern China, away from the advancing Mongol invaders, the remnants of the  Although Napoleon's army was victorious, it suffered more casualties: approximately 1,100 to the Austrians's 960. [III]
Delaroche's early works had been based on topics from the Bible's Old Testament, but gradually his interests switched to painting scenes from English and French history. Etymology According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the word bible is from Latin biblia, traced from the same word through Medieval Latin and Late Latin In Western Christianity, the Old Testament refers to the books that form the first of the two-part Christian Biblical canon.  He 'combined colouristic skill with an interest in detailed scenes from history'. Bonaparte Crossing the Alps, which was painted roughly eight years before Delaroche's death, exemplifies this phase in Delaroche's career.
The commissioning aside, Delaroche was inspired to create Bonaparte Crossing the Alps because he felt that he both looked like Napoleon, and that his achievements were comparable to Napoleon's.  It is likely that Delaroche's painting is relatively historically accurate; details such as Napoleon's clothes appear to have been researched by Delaroche in an effort at authenticity. 
The Liverpool painting was commissioned by Arthur George, Third Earl of Onslow, after Delaroche and George reportedly visited the Louvre in Paris, where they saw David's version of the famous event. Earl of Onslow, of Onslow in the County of Shropshire is a title in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. The Louvre Museum (Musée du Louvre located in Paris is the world's most visited art museum a historic monument and a national museum of France It had only recently been re-hung in the museum after a resurgence of interest in Napoleon, nearly 40 years after he was exiled. [IV] Agreeing that the painting was unrealistic, George, who owned a sizable collection of Napoleonic paraphernalia, commissioned Delaroche to create a more realistic depiction. .  Elizabeth Foucart-Walker asserts that in fact the painting that hangs in the Louvre was produced first as it was already in America by 1850, when the Liverpool painting was produced. Stephen Bann suggests that Arthur George's meeting with Delaroche may have occurred, but Delaroche chose to produce two works that are almost identical and send one to America.  The Liverpool version of the painting is more refined.
The contrast between Jacques-Louis David's depiction of the same scene (of Napoleon traversing the Alps on his way to Italy), which was a flattering portrait that the king of Spain requested[V] for Napoleon (as a gift) and Delaroche's depiction in Bonaparte Crossing the Alps is easily apparent. The first and most significant difference is in Napoleon, in his clothing, and in his general stature. David's version depicts Napoleon, dressed in an immaculate, multi-coloured uniform with a billowing cape. Delaroche's version, however, sees Napoleon in a fairly ordinary, gray coat with the sole purpose of keeping the cold away, rather than showing him as the symbol he may have represented - that of a gallant and powerful war leader, which is the impression given in David's version. The musical instrument is spelled Cymbal. A symbol is something --- such as an object, Picture, written word a sound a piece However, there is another significant difference in Napoleon himself, in the way he holds himself. David's Napoleon is flamboyant, confident in his leadership of the French army, and in his ability to cross the Alps and defeat the Austrians in Italy. Delaroche's Napoleon is instead downcast, gaunt and embittered by the harsh cold. His eyes and expressionless face evidence his weariness, his tiredness a result of the long and unstable trek. The last properly significant difference in the two art works (excluding the actual setting, background, men seen in the distance etc. ) is the difference in the animals that Napoleon rides on. In David's version, Napoleon rides a large, strong steed with a long mane, and this is one figment of David's version that is irrefutably untrue - Napoleon is known to have ridden a mule on his journey (which was borrowed from a local peasant), rather than a horse.  This presence of a horse rather than a mule was one of the most major grounds for Delaroche's criticism of David's version, and is the basis of Delaroche's claim that Bonaparte Crossing the Alps, which includes a mule, is a more realistic portrayal of the scene.
|Delaroche's picture of Napoleon crossing the Alps|
Napoleon is seen wearing clothing appropriate for his location: over his uniform he wears a long topcoat which is wrapped firmly around him, in which he keeps his gloveless right hand warm. He retains a piece of his dignity in the gold-trimmed black bicorne he wears on his head. The bicorne or bicorn (two-cornered is an archaic form of hat associated with the late 18th and early 19th centuries  The mule Napoleon rides is undernourished, tired from its ordeal in struggling through the Alps. On the left of the mule is his guide, Pierre Nicholas Dorsaz, who must constantly push himself and the mule forward, and who leans heavily on the shaft of wood he clutches in his left hand to allow himself to continue moving forward. Pierre Nicholas Dorsaz (fl 19th century was an inhabitant of the village of Bourg-Saint-Pierre who acted as Napoleon Bonaparte 's guide when he crossed the His clothes are weather-beaten, his face ruddy from the cold. He is not allowed the luxury of riding an animal, for he must be able to navigate independently, on the ground.
Elements of the cold, harsh environment of the Alps are apparent: distant mountains capped in snow rise up behind Napoleon and his troupe, while a steep cliff face appears on his left, and the path underfoot has a thick layer of ice. More members of Napoleon's entourage can be seen slightly behind him, their robust figures accentuating Bonaparte's fragility. 
Napoleon is shown to be as he would have been high up in the mountains, as a mortal and imperilled man. While this seems in some way demeaning to Napoleon's figure (and contrasts in the extreme with David's version, which shows Napoleon impervious to the cold, and in a heroic light), Delaroche's artwork was not intended to portray him in a hostile or unbecoming way. Delaroche wanted to depict Napoleon as a credible man, who suffered and underwent human hardship too, on his most daring exploits, and felt that making him appear as he really would have been in the situation would by no means debase or diminish Napoleon's iconic status or legacy, but rather make him a more admirable person. 
Along with the mass of white seen behind Napoleon, the amber sunlight glow, originating from the West of Napoleon's troupe, is the central source of lighting in the painting. It introduces contrast when coupled with shadow, and, by illumination, highlights key aspects of the scene; this is particularly seen by the light that falls across Bonaparte's pigeon chest. Contrast is the difference in visual properties that makes an object (or its representation in an image distinguishable from other objects and the background  Napoleon and the mule he is saddled on are richly textured visually by the contrasting light and shade, as is the guide leading the mule. Texture refers to the properties held and sensations caused by the external surface of objects received through the sense of touch. The ice and snow layers, also, are made whiter by the sunshine from the West, brightening the whole scene. However, the overhanging cliff on the left of Napoleon's guide and the legs of the mule both cast shadows to balance the lighting scheme of the painting.
The textural hues and schemes that Delaroche uses in this painting are quite detailed and well considered, especially in regards to the most important figures; such aspects of the work were described as being '. . . rendered with a fidelity that has not omitted the plait of a drapery, the shaggy texture of the four-footed animal, nor a detail of the harness on his back'.  The mule, especially its fur, was intensely textured and detailed to make it look visually rough and bristly, and the mule itself weary and worn. The same techniques were applied to the red and yellow adornments draped and hung over the animal. The central detail of Napoleon is applied to his coat, in its ruffles and creases. Much detail and textural diversity is given to the guide too, most particularly to his face, his green, wind-caught tunic, and his leather boots.
Delaroche's attention to detail and literal precision in this painting evidences and demonstrates the slow but steady evolution of realism in art during the 19th century, and how its popularity began to rise. 
The work, despite its attempt to depict Napoleon realistically, was criticised by several authorities for a variety of reasons. A few disapproved of Delaroche's choice of painting, while others disapproved of Delaroche himself, saying, in some form, that he sought the genius of Napoleon, to no avail. 
Soon after its completion, the work was taken to England, and there, in 1850, it was reviewed by the critic of the Atheneum,[VI] a literary magazine. England is a Country which is part of the United Kingdom. Its inhabitants account for more than 83% of the total UK population whilst its mainland The Athenaeum was a literary magazine published in London from 1828 to 1921  The magazine's comments on the work indicated that, while they praised the painting for several of its features, they criticised Delaroche, for various reasons:
An Officer in a French costume, mounted on a mule, is conducted by a rough peasant through a dangerous pass, whose traces are scarcely discernible through the deep-lying snow; and his aide-de-camp is just visible in a ravine of the towering Alps. These facts are rendered with a fidelity that has not omitted the plait of a drapery, the shaggy texture of the four-footed animal, nor a detail of the harness on his back. The drifting of the embedded snow, the pendent icicle which a solitary sun-ray in a transient moment has made-all are given with a truth which will be dear to those who exalt the Dutch School for like qualities into the foremost rank of excellence. But the lofty and daring genius that led the humble Lieutenant of Ajaccio to be ruler and arbiter of the destinies of the larger part of Europe will be sought in vain by M. Delaroche. 
Some were displeased with Delaroche's work at the time in general, and, in part, Bonaparte Crossing the Alps, criticising what was described as his 'lowered standards in art'. Such critics included The Gentleman's Magazine, who wrote the following text about Delaroche:
These all reveal a modification in his style, but not a happy one. The Gentleman's Magazine was founded in London by Edward Cave in January 1731 His more recent works are not calculated to restore him the sympathy he had lost. It must be confessed that Delaroche is an artist of talent rather than a genius. Education and diligent study qualified him to be a painter, but not an artist, in the true sense of that word. For he has failed in the true mission of the artist-that of advancing the education of the masses; when it was in his power to give an impulse, he yielded to it; he has been a reflection, but not a light; and instead of elevating the public to himself, he has lowered himself to the public. 
Here, in David's version, Napoleon wears a colourful, pristine garb, complete with a billowing cape.
Napoleon's mule is led along by Napoleon's peasant guide. The effect of the amber light is again evident here.
Close detail of Napoleon's face, and that of his horse, from David's version.