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Sapper-Grenadier of the Imperial Guard

Jacques Louis David French

Not on view

For The Distribution of the Eagles, David made many studies of individual soldiers. Here, the chalk sketch of the nude figure is visible below the semitransparent rendering of his uniform. On the canvas, this man plays an important role: he anchors the lower right corner of the composition, while his gesture and backward glance suggest that he is leading a larger group.

Male bodies molded into expressions of shared patriotism, especially the gestures of oath taking, are a recurring theme in David’s oeuvre, from the ancient Roman legend of The Oath of the Horatii to the revolutionary Oath of the Tennis Court. Here, the theme adapts effortlessly to fit Napoleon’s need for expressions of military allegiance.

Sapper-Grenadier of the Imperial Guard, Jacques Louis David (French, Paris 1748–1825 Brussels), Black chalk, squared in black chalk

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