Napoleon I

Emperor of the French


In this state portrait, Napoleon presents himself as emperor of the French in the full coronation regalia he wore in 1804. The objects displayed point to a multi-faceted historical continuity. The laurel leaf crown and the eagle scepter cite the Roman Empire. The imperial orb (Reichsapfel) belongs to the imperial regalia of Charlemagne, founder of the christian empire in the Middle Ages. Finally, the coronation robe cites the coronation regalia of French kings.

Napoleon’s coronation ceremony took place in the Notre-Dame Cathedral, Paris in 1804. After he was anointed by Pope Pius VII, Napoleon – in the absence of the Pope – crowned himself emperor. By taking an oath on the preservation of revolutionary achievements, Napoleon presented himself as the victorious representative of the triumphant revolution.

Napoleon I had numerous copies of this coronation portrait made, gifting them to France and to the German states he controlled.