Friday, 17 October 2014

‘Napoleon Visits the Plague House at Jaffa,’ by Antoine-Jean Gros


Bonaparte visitant les pestiférés de Jaffa, 1804, oil on canvas, 5320mm × 7200mm, Louvre, Paris

Dictator visits the severely afflicted, affecting Christ-like stature.

This is a huge canvas (17 feet high and 23 feet wide) divided in three, portraying the conquering hero as a cross between Christ and Apollo, visiting his afflicted troops in Egypt stricken with the deadly disease.

In reality, he was leaving Egypt in defeat, having order the patients’/prisoners’ death.

Such is the power of great art that the portrait nonetheless sticks.

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