Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate April 2001

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Napoleon         Napoleon Bonaparte was one of the great leaders of the French army. In the painting by Jacques Louis David, Napoleon Crossing the Alps, we see just how great of a leader Napoleon was. A lot of detail is taken into this painting of Napoleon but it is not all very simple to notice.                 One of the first thing that a person notices when looking at this painting is the names that are inscribed on the ground. The names Bonaparte, and what seems to be Hannibal, although only nnibal is visible, and Karoins Magnvs are on the ground. The way the name Bonaparte is written is very big and clear compared to the name of Hannibal. This gives a feeling that Bonaparte is more or less a stronger name and superior to Hannibal. The name Hannibal is cut off which also gives a feeling that he need not be paid much attention and that his time as being a ruler is being over taken by Napoleon.

The other name that is inscribed into the ground I am not quite sure who it is but it also seems to be not nearly as important to the name and strong structure of Bonaparte.

                Another main thing that can be seen in this painting is the size of the horse and the size of Napoleon. Napoleon in real life was actually a small man. He stood only 5'2" which is hardly much taller then a midget. But if you were to judge the height of Napoleon by the size of him in the painting, you could justifiably argue that he was a man that stood around 6 to 6½ feet tall. He is just about the same size of the horse in the painting. These types of over exaggerations are ways that David illustrates how mighty and powerful Napoleon was. He shows just how mighty and brave Napoleon is by the expressions on his face and the horses. The horses seems to be scared out of its wits, with him being leaping up on its back two legs and his eyes with a look of fear and terror. Napoleon on the other hand has a look of confidence and casualness. As the horse is going through an uproar, Napoleon is just casually holding on with out a fear in the world. Also, in the background Napoleons troops are seen in the background charging up the mountain but they are no where close to the size of Napoleon.

        One of the last major things that can be noticed about this painting is the way that everything is shifted to the left. Here we see the horses hair being blown or shifted to the left, the hair of Napoleon and his cape, and the sky and the mountains in the background are all slightly shifted to the left.

It almost gives a feel that Napoleon is being swayed over the mountain to victory by all of the elements. Also to be noted is the hand of Napoleon which is signaling to move left over the mountains.

        In closing, David does a great job of showing us how Napoleon was a fearless and confident leader while taking his troops across the alps. He shows us a much larger image of Napoleon which helps add to how great a leader he was.