Napoleon I as "Emperor of the French" in coronation regalia, François Gérard , 1806/1810 © DHM

Napoleon I as "Emperor of the French" in coronation regalia, François Gérard , 1806/1810

Following his imperial coronation in 1804, Napoleon Bonaparte had numerous official portraits of himself produced, which he lavishly bestowed upon allied regents, deserving marshals, and ministers. Painters were commissioned to produce replicas of this image, approximately twenty of which still exist today.

In this official state portrait, Napoleon demonstrates his own imperial majesty through insignia, including the laurel-wreath crown and eagle sceptre of the Roman Empire, the imperial orb reminiscent of Charlemagne, and the hand of justice, a sign of the judicial authority of the French kings. At the same time, he treads upon the royal blue preferred by the monarchs – the "bleu royal" – that covers the floor. Significant for the colour composition here is neither the tricolour nor the Bourbon blue and white, but rather the imperial red and white.