Coronation


Art has been important in my life as far back as I can remember. My mother was always taking my sister and me to art museums and exhibits. I didn’t realize it wasn’t a rather standard childhood activity. Some families made trips to the zoo. We went to the Louvre. (We were also a travelling family.)

When I was 9 years old, our little family moved to France for a year. It was a very influential time in my life. Especially in terms of art exposure. My taste in art has changed a lot since then. (I’m now partial to contemporary, abstract and surrealist art.) But when I was 9 years old, I was quite taken with the painting “The Coronation of Napoleon,” by Jacques-Louis David. (I see that it’s in the Louvre now, but I don’t remember where it was when I first met it. I’m quite sure I saw at the Palace of Versailles at some point, but that may have been years later.) It was a huge painting, over 20 by 30 feet.

The Coronation of Napoleon
I was taken in by the luscious colors and incredibly rich detail, particularly of the lavish clothing and jewelry. I bought an oversized postcard-type reproduction of the painting, and would enjoy looking at the details, perhaps imagining myself there. On the back of the card, there was an index to many of the participants of the ceremony depicted, and I was intrigued by the fact that the artist had painted himself in the audience.

Le Chateau d'Hennemont I’m also remembering that I was generally quite fascinated by royalty at that time. My friends and I would play “royalty” at school. That is, we’d pretend to be various members of a royal family, and act out various scenarios. We may well have been, in part, inspired by the fact that one of our school buildings was, I kid you not, a castle. For some reason, and I’m quite proud of my childhood self about this now, I wasn’t interested in being a princess. I always wanted to play the queen mother. Or as I called her, The Elderly. I didn’t have a crown at that time, though.

I’ve been reflecting on these things because tomorrow at 2:00 p.m., I get a crown. At the dentist’s office, that is. I’m not expecting too much ceremony for the occasion.

6 thoughts on “Coronation

  1. The Coronation was definitely at the Louvre. I remember that day in the gift store, you buying the David print, me buying a Magritte print (Rene Magritte – L’Empire des Lumieres, 1954) found here: http://www.essentialart.com/acatalog/Rene_Magritte_L_Empire_des_Lumieres_1954.html

    I doubt the Coronation would have been at Versailles, though it may have been at Fountainbleau as that was Napolean’s crib during his reign.

    I didn’t remember your fascination with royalty during the France year. You are forgetting that this period was also during the Charles Diana engagement, so there was much hubub about the British monarchy at that time…or it could have been the castle classroom.

    Hope your coronation went well.

    /m

  2. The existence of a near-identical replica of the Coronation at Versailles explains a lot. I vaguely remember seeing it (probably in 1988 or so) at Versailles, and thinking “Hello. What are you doing here?” Now I know that it was the evil twin!

    And your’re right, Maja. The Royal Hubbub over the British Monarchy leading up to the Big Engagement probably did influence my fascination with royalty in 1980. I’m not sure how else I would have been aware of the Queen Mother. I think also just being in France, and having spent so much time visiting chateaux and other palaces had me primed. On top of already being very fond of looking at sparkly jewels and fancy dresses.

    As for my own coronation, the ceremony went well, thanks. I am currently commissioning a painting to reflect the awesome scale of the event. I think perhaps that 20 by 30 millimeters might be appropriate, perhaps an abstract work in the medium of toothpaste.

    -Alejna

    p.s. John, please-oh-please never again speak of the Richard Dawson not-safe-for-work fanfiction.

  3. Hello!
    I too went to school in your castle way way back! Spent 4 years in and around Paris… coming back to Canada in 1961! I remember the dining room and long winding staircase…

  4. I was there from 1964 to 1967 and spent the most interesting childhood playing around the Castle and woods. Hard to believe they filled in the courtyard in the back.

  5. Yes, there are 2 paintings of Napoleon Crowning Josephine. One is at the Louve and the other is at Versailles. I feel in love with them as well and brought home a postcard and a poster of the one at Versailles. There is only 1 difference between the 2 paintings, in one, the sisters dress are pink and in the other, the dresses are blue:)

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