English summary of the German lecture: On allusions to antiquity in the portraits of Napoleon I and his contemporaries
The paper presents one of the case studies in my broader project on the allusion to antiquity in French portrait sculpture of the modern period (see MLC of 11.01.2016). As regards the sculptural image of the ruler à l’antique, the Napoleonic period outstrips previous centuries both in frequency of instances and in their iconographical richness. Within the transient Napoleonic empire, however, clear regional differences stand out. The cases treated in the paper will be limited primarily to the territory of France. The crowning of the Colonne Vendôme with a statue holds an exceptional position here, because its planning phase as well as its post-Napoleonic fate are documented in detail. A tension between the two poles of antique-style costume versus contemporary dress is inherent to the image of a ruler, but was of special relevance during the Premier Empire, and is impressively reflected in the honorary column in the Place Vendôme. Taking further contexts as examples, the attempt will be made to elucidate more precisely the backgrounds to the choice of iconography. Through this not only will we be able to gain a more nuanced perception of the historical and political localization of different ancient iconographies, but it will also become clear that Napoleon I himself was less capricious in his regard for the ancient allusion in the state portrait than has been assumed until now.