Bonaparte, First Consul

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Bonaparte, First Consul
Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, Portrait de Napoleon Bonaparte en premier consul.jpg
Artist Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres
Year 1804
Medium Oil on canvas
Dimensions 226 cm× 144 cm(89 in× 57 in)
Location Curtius Museum, Liège

Bonaparte, First Consul (Bonaparte, Premier Consul) is an 1804 portrait of Napoleon Bonaparte as First Consul by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres. The painting is now in the collection of the Curtius Museum in Liège. Posing the hand inside the waistcoat was often used in portraits of rulers to indicate calm and stable leadership. [1]

French Consulate former government of France

The Consulate was the top level Government of France from the fall of the Directory in the coup of Brumaire on 10 November 1799 until the start of the Napoleonic Empire on 18 May 1804. By extension, the term The Consulate also refers to this period of French history.

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres 19th-century French Neoclassical painter

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres was a French Neoclassical painter. Ingres was profoundly influenced by past artistic traditions and aspired to become the guardian of academic orthodoxy against the ascendant Romantic style. Although he considered himself a painter of history in the tradition of Nicolas Poussin and Jacques-Louis David, it is his portraits, both painted and drawn, that are recognized as his greatest legacy. His expressive distortions of form and space made him an important precursor of modern art, influencing Picasso, Matisse and other modernists.

Curtius Museum museum of archaeology and decorative arts, in Liège

The Curtius Museum is a museum of archaeology and decorative arts, located on the bank of the Meuse River in Liège, classified as a Major Heritage of Wallonia.



The cathedrale Saint-Lambert in Liege in 1780 Eglise-liege-stlambert-Deneumoulin-1780.jpg
The cathédrale Saint-Lambert in Liège in 1780

On 1 August 1803 Bonaparte stopped in Liège for two days on his triumphal march across the nine annexed départements. On the terrace of a hôtel particulier on the Mont-Saint-Martin, Bonaparte contemplated the city, criticising the église Saint-Jean-en-l’Isle, ordering a bell tower (which it still lacked) for the new cathédrale Saint-Paul and approved the siting of the fort de la Chartreuse. [2] A large crowd (the city's population having tripled during the two days of the visit) gathered to acclaim Bonaparte and some even knelt in his path. [2]

Liège Municipality in French Community, Belgium

Liège is a major Walloon city and municipality and the capital of the Belgian province of Liège.

<i>Hôtel particulier</i> townhouse of a grand sort

An hôtel particulier is a townhouse of a grand sort, comparable to the British townhouse. Whereas an ordinary maison (house) was built as part of a row, sharing party walls with the houses on either side and directly fronting on a street, an hôtel particulier was often free-standing, and by the 18th century it would always be located entre cour et jardin: between the cour d'honneur and the garden behind. There are hôtels particuliers in many large cities in France.

Fort de la Chartreuse

The Fort de la Chartreuse, which dominates the Amercœur neighborhood of Liège in Belgium, was built between 1817 and 1823 to defend the city.

The city's head of state met Bonaparte in the Amercœur quarter, which had been devastated by Austrian bombardment on leaving the city in 1794 after the battle of Sprimont. Deeply impressed by the inhabitants' misery, Bonaparte decreed 300,000 francs to the prefect of Ourthe, baron Micoud d'Umons, for the suburb's reconstruction. [3] The same evening, Bonaparte told the Second Consul "I am extremely content at the spirit of the inhabitants of Liège". [2] To show his satisfaction, Bonaparte announced his intention to offer the city of Liège a portrait of him by Ingres, which would be sent to them a year later. [4] Ingres—who had made his debut at the Salon the previous year—thus became one of five artists (the others were Jean-Baptiste Greuze, Robert Lefèvre, Charles Meynier, and Marie-Guillemine Benoist) who were commissioned to paint full-length portraits of Napoleon to be distributed to the prefectural towns of Liège, Antwerp, Dunkerque, Brussels, and Ghent, all of which were newly ceded to France in the 1801 Treaty of Lunéville. [5]

Battle of Sprimont

The Battle of Sprimont, Battle of Esneux or Battle of the Ourthe was a battle between French Republican and Austrian troops on the plateau between the valleys of the Vesdre, the Ourthe and the Amblève, 20 kilometres (12 mi) south of Liège. It occurred on 17 and 18 September 1794 and was a French Republican victory. The battle put a final end to the Ancien Régime in what is now Belgium, then essentially the Austrian Netherlands, Principality of Liège and the Principality of Stavelot-Malmedy. French troops dislodged Austrian troops occupying the plateau, though the French suffered heavy losses. Associated with the battle are the villages of Sprimont, Esneux, Fontin and the site of the La Redoute, whose name originates in a redoubt involved in the battle.

Salon (Paris) art exhibition periodically held in Paris from 1667 to 1890

The Salon, or rarely Paris Salon, beginning in 1667 was the official art exhibition of the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Between 1748 and 1890 it was arguably the greatest annual or biennial art event in the Western world. At the 1761 Salon, thirty-three painters, nine sculptors, and eleven engravers contributed. From 1881 onward, it has been managed by the Société des Artistes Français.

Jean-Baptiste Greuze French painter

Jean-Baptiste Greuze was a French painter of portraits, genre scenes, and history painting.


Ingres was 23 when he received the commission for the painting from the city of Liège. He was unable to get Bonaparte to sit for it and had to base the pose on a portrait of him from 1802 by Antoine-Jean Gros. Ingres' painting shows its subject aged 34 with his right hand about to sign an act titled "Faubourg d’Amercœur rebâti" (Amercœur suburb rebuilt). This decree refers to one signed by Napoleon in 1803 to the prefecture of the Ourthe département to restore this suburb and is an attempt to demonstrate to the newly annexed city the benefits of being part of France and to symbolically take possession of the city.

Antoine-Jean Gros French painter

Antoine-Jean Gros, titled as Baron Gros in 1824, was a French painter. His work was in the genres of history and neoclassical painting.

The cathedrale Saint-Lambert in Liege being sacked by the city's revolutionaries Liege-ruine-stlambert-Chevron-1.jpg
The cathédrale Saint-Lambert in Liège being sacked by the city's revolutionaries
Gros' 1802 painting that inspired Ingres Gros - First Consul Bonaparte.png
Gros' 1802 painting that inspired Ingres

Bonaparte is shown not as a long-haired revolutionary or in the blue uniform he wears in Gros' Bonaparte au pont d'Arcole , but in the red uniform of a consul of the republic, with short hair. Instead of resting his hand on his sword in a martial pose, he assumes a civilian one, placing it inside his jacket. The curtain is open in the background showing St. Lambert's Cathedral, Liège as complete, when in fact it was being demolished at this time during the Liège Revolution. The excesses of the French Revolution and of the counter-revolutionaries were put into perspective by the painting, in a context of détente and reconciliation between the French Republic and the Catholic Church. Official relations between France and the papacy had been poor since civil constitution of the clergy in 1790, but the painting's reconstruction of the then-ruined cathedral symbolised the resumption of good relations between them and the "protection" the First French Republic granted to the Catholic Church in the concordat of 1801.

Liège Revolution conflict

The Liège Revolution, sometimes known as the Happy Revolution, started on 18 August 1789 and lasted until the destruction of the Republic of Liège and re-establishment of the Prince-Bishopric of Liège by Austrian forces in 1791. The Liège Revolution was concurrent with the French Revolution and its effects were long-lasting and eventually led to the abolition of the Bishopric of Liège and its final annexation by French revolutionary forces in 1795.

French Revolution social and political revolution in France and its colonies occurring from 1789 to 1798

The French Revolution was a period of far-reaching social and political upheaval in France and its colonies beginning in 1789. The Revolution overthrew the monarchy, established a republic, catalyzed violent periods of political turmoil, and finally culminated in a dictatorship under Napoleon who brought many of its principles to areas he conquered in Western Europe and beyond. Inspired by liberal and radical ideas, the Revolution profoundly altered the course of modern history, triggering the global decline of absolute monarchies while replacing them with republics and liberal democracies. Through the Revolutionary Wars, it unleashed a wave of global conflicts that extended from the Caribbean to the Middle East. Historians widely regard the Revolution as one of the most important events in human history.

Concordat of 1801 peace treaty

The Concordat of 1801 was an agreement between Napoleon and Pope Pius VII, signed on 15 July 1801 in Paris. It remained in effect until 1905. It sought national reconciliation between revolutionaries and Catholics and solidified the Roman Catholic Church as the majority church of France, with most of its civil status restored. The hostility of devout French Catholics against the state had then largely been resolved. It did not restore the vast church lands and endowments that had been seized upon during the revolution and sold off. Catholic clergy returned from exile, or from hiding, and resumed their traditional positions in their traditional churches. Very few parishes continued to employ the priests who had accepted the Civil Constitution of the Clergy of the Revolutionary regime. While the Concordat restored much power to the papacy, the balance of church-state relations tilted firmly in Napoleon's favour. He selected the bishops and supervised church finances.


  1. Uwe Fleckner, "Napoleons Hand in der Weste: von der ethischen zur politischen Rhetorik einer Geste' ['Napoleon's hand in the waistcoat: from the ethical to the political rhetoric of a gesture'] Daidalos 64 (June 1997), 122-29
  2. 1 2 3 Heuse 1936, p. 41.
  3. Heuse 1936, p. 42.
  4. Heuse 1936, p. 43.
  5. Tinterow, Conisbee et al. 1999, p. 46.

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