A preparatory study of the Empress Josephine and the final painting, Napoleon’s Coronation (1808) by Jacques-Louis David

David painted the 41-year old Empress to appear much younger than she does in a far more sensitive, intimate pencil sketch. When a visitor to his studio noted that David had made Josephine look too youthful in the final painted version—where she loses the double chin from the tender drawing—the painter retorted: “Eh bien, allez le lui dire!” (Oh yeah? Go tell that to her). The focus on Josephine’s crowning, some historians believe, was also a way to highlight the future of the Napoleonic Empire. This was the woman, after all, who would (theoretically) bear Napoleon’s heir.

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