On loan to The Met The Met accepts temporary loans of art both for short-term exhibitions and for long-term display in its galleries.

Napoleon Crowning Himself

Jacques Louis David French

Not on view

This compositional study shows that David fully understood the picture’s essential purpose: like the ceremony itself, it was meant to buttress Napoleon’s claim to authority. Merging documentary and propaganda, the image presents the new sociopolitical order in the best possible light, with all the luxurious trappings of past regimes.

The seated pope looks on weakly while Napoleon, with a brash confidence, crowns himself. It was only when the canvas was nearly done that the decision was made to replace this striking motif with a less provocative action, one which had followed moments later: Napoleon placing a second crown on his wife Josephine’s head.

Napoleon Crowning Himself, Jacques Louis David (French, Paris 1748–1825 Brussels), Pen and black ink, brush and gray wash

Due to rights restrictions, this image cannot be enlarged, viewed at full screen, or downloaded.

Open Access

As part of the Met's Open Access policy, you can freely copy, modify and distribute this image, even for commercial purposes.


Public domain data for this object can also be accessed using the Met's Open Access API.