Bonaparte, First Consul

Bonaparte, First Consul (Bonaparte, Premier Consul) is an 1804 portrait of Napoleon Bonaparte as First Consul by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres. The painting is now in the collection of the Curtius Museum in Liège. Posing the hand inside the waistcoat was often used in portraits of rulers to indicate calm and stable leadership.[1]

Bonaparte, First Consul
Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, Portrait de Napoléon Bonaparte en premier consul
ArtistJean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres
MediumOil on canvas
Dimensions226 cm × 144 cm (89 in × 57 in)
LocationCurtius Museum, Liège


On 1 August 1803 Bonaparte stopped in Liège for two days on his triumphal march across the nine annexed départements. On the terrace of a hôtel particulier on the Mont-Saint-Martin, Bonaparte contemplated the city, criticising the église Saint-Jean-en-l’Isle, ordering a bell tower (which it still lacked) for the new cathédrale Saint-Paul and approved the siting of the fort de la Chartreuse.[2] A large crowd (the city's population having tripled during the two days of the visit) gathered to acclaim Bonaparte and some even knelt in his path.[2]

The city's head of state met Bonaparte in the Amercœur quarter, which had been devastated by Austrian bombardment on leaving the city in 1794 after the battle of Sprimont. Deeply impressed by the inhabitants' misery, Bonaparte decreed 300,000 francs to the prefect of Ourthe, baron Micoud d'Umons, for the suburb's reconstruction.[3] The same evening, Bonaparte told the Second Consul "I am extremely content at the spirit of the inhabitants of Liège".[2] To show his satisfaction, Bonaparte announced his intention to offer the city of Liège a portrait of him by Ingres, which would be sent to them a year later.[4] Ingres—who had made his debut at the Salon the previous year—thus became one of five artists (the others were Jean-Baptiste Greuze, Robert Lefèvre, Charles Meynier, and Marie-Guillemine Benoist) who were commissioned to paint full-length portraits of Napoleon to be distributed to the prefectural towns of Liège, Antwerp, Dunkerque, Brussels, and Ghent, all of which were newly ceded to France in the 1801 Treaty of Lunéville.[5]


Ingres was 23 when he received the commission for the painting from the city of Liège. He was unable to get Bonaparte to sit for it and had to base the pose on a portrait of him from 1802 by Antoine-Jean Gros. Ingres' painting shows its subject aged 34 with his right hand about to sign an act titled "Faubourg d’Amercœur rebâti" (Amercœur suburb rebuilt). This decree refers to one signed by Napoleon in 1803 to the prefecture of the Ourthe département to restore this suburb and is an attempt to demonstrate to the newly annexed city the benefits of being part of France and to symbolically take possession of the city.

The cathédrale Saint-Lambert in Liège being sacked by the city's revolutionaries
Gros - First Consul Bonaparte
Gros' 1802 painting that inspired Ingres

Bonaparte is shown not as a long-haired revolutionary or in the blue uniform he wears in Gros' Bonaparte au pont d'Arcole, but in the red uniform of a consul of the republic, with short hair. Instead of resting his hand on his sword in a martial pose, he assumes a civilian one, placing it inside his jacket. The curtain is open in the background showing St. Lambert's Cathedral, Liège as complete, when in fact it was being demolished at this time during the Liège Revolution. The excesses of the French Revolution and of the counter-revolutionaries were put into perspective by the painting, in a context of détente and reconciliation between the French Republic and the Catholic Church. Official relations between France and the papacy had been poor since civil constitution of the clergy in 1790, but the painting's reconstruction of the then-ruined cathedral symbolised the resumption of good relations between them and the "protection" the First French Republic granted to the Catholic Church in the concordat of 1801.


  1. ^ Uwe Fleckner, "Napoleons Hand in der Weste: von der ethischen zur politischen Rhetorik einer Geste' ['Napoleon's hand in the waistcoat: from the ethical to the political rhetoric of a gesture'] Daidalos 64 (June 1997), 122-29
  2. ^ a b c Heuse 1936, p. 41.
  3. ^ Heuse 1936, p. 42.
  4. ^ Heuse 1936, p. 43.
  5. ^ Tinterow, Conisbee et al. 1999, p. 46.


  • Heuse, Henri. Pages de petite histoire, France et Wallonie 1789-1830. Georges Thone, Liège. 1936.
  • Tinterow, Gary; Conisbee, Philip; Naef, Hans. Portraits by Ingres: Image of an Epoch. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc. 1999. ISBN 0-8109-6536-4
1802 French constitutional referendum

A referendum ratifying the new constitution of the Consulate, which made Napoleon Bonaparte First Consul for life, was held on 10 May 1802. The official result showed 99.76% of voters in favour of the change. Of seven million eligible voters, 49.45% abstained.

1802 in France

Events from the year 1802 in France.

1803 in art

Events in the year 1803 in Art.

1804 in art

The year 1804 in art involved some significant artistic events and new works.

Acte de déchéance de l'Empereur

The Acte de déchéance de l'Empereur ("Emperor's Demise Act") is a legislative decision taken by the Sénat conservateur on 2 April 1814, recognising the downfall of Napoléon I of France.

Bonaparte Archipelago

The Bonaparte Archipelago is a group of islands off the coast of Western Australia in the Kimberley region, within the Shire of Wyndham-East Kimberley. The closest inhabited place is Kalumburu located about 100 kilometres (62 mi) to the east of the island group. The archipelago was named by the Baudin expedition on 16 August 1801 after Napoleon Bonaparte, First Consul of France.

The archipelago is made up of the islands and islets lying off a stretch of 150 kilometres (93 mi) of coastline, roughly between Collier Bay to the SW and Admiralty Gulf to the NE, including islands in Admiralty Gulf itself. The islands are mostly small, and many are best described as islets or emergent rocks. They number several hundred in total. Several submerged banks and shoals are also found within the archipelago.

The largest island in the group is Augustus Island which has an area of 190 square kilometres (73 sq mi). Another significant island is the 3 ha (7.4 acres) Booby Island, which is classified as an Important Bird Area and Jungulu Island found just off-shore from Augustus Island.

Other islands in the group include Uwins Island, Coronation Island and Bigge Island.

Charles-François Lebrun

Charles-François Lebrun, 1st duc de Plaisance (19 March 1739 – 16 June 1824), was a French statesman who served as Third Consul of the French Republic and was later created Arch-Treasurer and Prince of the Empire by Napoleon I.


Consul (abbrev. cos.; Latin plural consules) was the title of one of the chief magistrates of the Roman Republic, and subsequently a somewhat significant title under the Roman Empire. The title was used in other European city states through antiquity and the Middle Ages, then revived in modern states, notably in the First French Republic. The relating adjective is consular, from the consularis.

This usage contrasts with modern terminology, where a consul is a type of diplomat.

Curtius Museum

The Curtius Museum (Musée Curtius) is a museum of archaeology and decorative arts, located on the bank of the Meuse River in Liège, classified as a Major Heritage of Wallonia.

It was built sometime between 1597 and 1610 as a private mansion for Jean Curtius, industrialist and munitions supplier to the Spanish army. With its alternating layers of red brick and natural stone, and its cross-mullioned windows, the building typifies the regional style known as the Mosan (or Meuse) Renaissance.

After a 50 million euro redevelopment, the museum reopened as the Grand Curtius (Le Grand Curtius) in March 2009, now housing the merged collections of four former museums: the museum of archeology, the museum of weaponry, the museum of decorative arts, and the museum of religious art and Mosan art. Highlights in the collections include treasures of Mosan art such as a twelfth-century gilded reliquary tryptich, formerly in the church of Sainte-Croix, the Evangelarium of Notger, sculptures by Jean Del Cour, and a portrait of Napoleon Bonaparte painted by Ingres in 1804: Bonaparte, First Consul.

French Consulate

The Consulate (French: Le Consulat) was the top level Government of France from the fall of the Directory in the coup of Brumaire on 10 November 1799 until the start of the Napoleonic Empire on 18 May 1804. By extension, the term The Consulate also refers to this period of French history.

During this period, Napoleon Bonaparte, as First Consul, established himself as the head of a more authoritarian, autocratic, and centralized republican government in France while not declaring himself sole ruler. Due to the long-lasting institutions established during these years, Robert B. Holtman has called the Consulate "one of the most important periods of all French history." Napoleon brought authoritarian personal rule which has been viewed as military dictatorship.

List of state leaders in 1799

This is a list of heads of state, heads of governments, and other rulers in the year 1799.

List of state leaders in 1802

This is a list of heads of state, heads of governments, and other rulers in the year 1802.

List of state leaders in 1803

This is a list of heads of state, heads of governments, and other rulers in the year 1803.

List of state leaders in 1804

This is a list of heads of state, heads of governments, and other rulers in the year 1804.

Pierre-Joseph Tiolier

Pierre-Joseph Tiolier (17 March 1763 – 1819) was a French engraver who was appointed the 15th Engraver-General of France.

Portrait of Caroline Murat, Queen of Naples

Portrait of Caroline Murat, Queen of Naples is an 1814 oil on canvas painting by the French Neoclassical artist Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres. Caroline Murat, née Bonaparte, was the sister of Napoleon, and married Joachim Murat, a Marshal of France and Admiral of France, and later King of Naples. Caroline commissioned the portrait as part of an effort to convey her standing and worth to reign as Queen of Naples during an unstable political climate.Long consider lost or destroyed since the fall of Murat in 1815, the painting was rediscovered in 1987 by the art historian Hans Naef. It is now in a private collection in New York.

Portrait of Marie-Françoise Rivière

Portrait of Marie-Françoise Rivière (also known as Portrait of Madame Rivière, or la Femme au châle) is a c. 1805 oil on canvas painting by the French Neoclassical artist Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres.Madame Rivière, born Marie-Françoise-Jacquette-Bibiane Blot de Beauregard, and known as Sabine, married Philibert Rivière de L'Isle, an influential court official in the in Napoleonic Empire, who commissioned this work, along with portraits of himself and their daughter, Caroline.The painting is composed from white, chilly blue, beige and ochre colours. It has an overall, deliberately flat and shadow-less appearance. The portrait has been described as having "an ambiance of female voluptuousness, [and] pampered femininity". Seated on a blue cushon or sofa, Sabine, then in her mid-30s, wears a low-cut and wide necked prom dress, with a high waist and short sleeves, a cream colored chiffon, and a cashmere shawl. He black hair is arranged in curls. The painting shocked critics when exhibited at the 1808 Salon, particularly they were perplexed at the illogical and unnatural anatomy. A point of focus was her deliberately elongated right arm. The technique however was to become a hallmark on Ingres' female portraits, in this case the arm is lengthened to rhyme with the curve of the oval frame.

There has been speculation as to why their son Paul was not portrayed and the background to the commission is unclear. Philibert Rivière was likely impressed by the painter's 1804 Bonaparte, First Consul; his own portrait echoes the emperor's pose. Unusually for Ingres, no preparatory drawings are known. Ingres' never saw the three Rivière paintings after the 1808 Salon, he tried to find and reunite them for an 1855 exhibition, but all the sitters had died (Caroline in 1807, Philibert in 1816, and Sabine in 1848), and could not determine the location of the canvasses. As it turned out they had been in the Paris collection of Paul Rivière. They were eventually bequeathed to the nation in 1870, three years after Ingres' own death.

The Ambassadors of Agamemnon in the tent of Achilles

The Ambassadors of Agamemnon in the tent of Achilles is an 1801 painting by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, produced for the Prix de Rome competition. It is now in the École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts in Paris.

It shows an episode from Homer's Iliad, in which Achilles refuses to listen to the envoys sent by Agamemnon to convince him back into the Trojan War. The topic assigned for the artists competing for the Prix de Rome in 1801 was the warriors' procession toward battle; Ingres' interpretation of the subject characteristically emphasized a moment of psychological drama instead of physical action. The work was intended as a demonstration of Ingres' mastery of the human figure in classical history painting – Odysseus is shown in a red cloak derived from a sculpture by Pseudo-Phidias.

The painting is in the neo-classical style and belongs to the school of Jacques-Louis David, in whose studio Ingres had trained. It also shows new influences from John Flaxman, whose work had just had its first Parisian exhibition.

The Death of Leonardo da Vinci

The Death of Leonardo da Vinci is an 1818 painting by the French artist Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, showing the painter Leonardo da Vinci dying, with Francis I of France holding his head. It was commissioned by the Pierre Louis Jean Casimir de Blacas, the French ambassador in Rome, and now hangs in the Petit Palais in Paris.

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