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  • Napoleon receives the keys of Vienna in Schönbrunn, November 13, 1805.

    GIRODET DE ROUCY TRIOSON Anne Louis (1767 - 1824)

  • Napoleon in front of Madrid, December 3, 1808.

    VERNET Horace or Emile-Jean-Horace (1789 - 1863)

To close

Title: Napoleon receives the keys of Vienna in Schönbrunn, November 13, 1805.

Author : GIRODET DE ROUCY TRIOSON Anne Louis (1767 - 1824)

Creation date : 1808

Date shown: November 13, 1805

Dimensions: Height 380 - Width 532

Technique and other indications: Oil on canvas Commissioned for the Galerie de Diane aux Tuileries in 1806; Salon de 1808, n ° 257 Placed in 1808 and withdrawn in 1810 to be sent to the Gobelins (fragment woven at the Malmaison museum); Louvre reserves; entered Versailles in 1835

Storage location: National Museum of the Palace of Versailles (Versailles) website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palaissite web

Picture reference: 89EE846 / MV.1549

Napoleon receives the keys of Vienna in Schönbrunn, November 13, 1805.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais

Napoleon in front of Madrid, December 3, 1808.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais

Publication date: October 2005

Historical context

An undefeated general from Toulon despite some dubious victories like Marengo, Napoleon thanks to his military talents was able to crush enemy armies with skillful encirclement maneuvers. The doors of many foreign capitals were thus opened to him.

: Milan, Venice, Cairo, then Vienna, Berlin, Madrid and Moscow, which was his tomb. These military victories enabled it to conquer and consolidate a political legitimacy that had become inseparable from arms.
Not all of these towns fell easily, however. These two works bear witness in their own way to this evolution.

Image Analysis

Girodet's painting

A great painter, very independent and taciturn in character, Girodet, a pupil of David, was uncomfortable with official orders. Especially since, remaining a Democrat, he hardly believed in Napoleon like his master. This is evidenced by his famous painting of French heroes welcomed in Ossian's paradise (1800-1802, Musée de Malmaison), reminder of Bonaparte's comrades in arms who died during the wars of the Revolution, and who thus left the field open to the First Consul to carry out his coup d'etat.

This discomfort with the official painting can be read perfectly in this painting, which was part of an order intended to commemorate the campaign of 1805. The work is reduced to a simple face-to-face between Napoleon and the Viennese dignitaries who, led by the Prince of Seidenstetten and Count Veterani, came to give him the keys to the city. In the background, you can see the Gloriette and the entrance to Schönbrunn Palace.
After capturing the Austrian army at Ulm in October 1805 and pushing back the Russians pending the Battle of Austerlitz on December 2, Napoleon advanced towards Vienna, declared an open city. On November 14 he entered the capital of the Austrian Empire.
On this painting, the ecclesiastical dignitaries, the soldiers of the Place de Vienne led by General Bourgeois, and the municipal officers, including the burgomaster von Wohleben, present the keys of the city to Napoleon surrounded by Murat, Bessières and Berthier, marshals most often represented in paintings. In the background, however, also appears the Mamluk Roustan, next to Napoleon's horse. The humility or resignation of the Austrians is opposed by the confident and provocative attitudes of the French.

Vernet's painting

The expressions found in Girodet's painting are even more exacerbated in Vernet's painting. It is also that the political context was different between the Viennese who accepted the capitulation because of the defeat of their army, and the harsh repression carried out by Murat which followed the insurrection of “Dos de Mayo” (May 2, 1808), so well illustrated in two paintings by Goya (Prado Museum). The whole of Spain having risen and its generals failing to pacify the country (Dupont capitulated to Baylen on June 22, 1808), Napoleon decided to lead a campaign which allowed him to enter Madrid on December 4, 1808. Surrounded by of Berthier and of generals, Napoleon accuses with an indignant finger Generals Morla and Fernando de la Vera, soldiers of the place of Madrid, and the leaders of the popular troops of Madrid, made responsible for the uprising. In Vernet's painting, the submissive attitudes of the Spaniards are outrageous - as was this terrible war - but this is to better accuse the propaganda aimed at increasing the power of Napoleon. Because it is around the hand of the Emperor that the whole composition revolves. On this “hand of justice” depends the fate of the Spanish generals.


Compared to Girodet’s painting, Vernet’s work is much stronger. But it is true that the Austrians, loyal to their army and not having witnessed the deposition of their sovereign as was the case in Spain, did not rise up. The uprising of the Tyroleans of Andreas Höfer will occur in 1809. As a result, to the calm composition of Girodet, all of restrained submission towards a victorious sovereign, is opposed a dramatic composition, where Vernet multiplies the heads of expression of the classic pictorial tradition, ranging from hatred and rigidity to dread that can be read on the faces of the Spaniards. Napoleon admittedly entered Madrid, but nothing was lost, for it was the armed people who rose up against the French occupier. Vernet’s painting was exhibited in 1810, two years after the event. Yet the usury guerrilla warfare continued in Spain. The painter had expressed Spanish feelings which reflected the irreducibility of the struggle and sound like a kind of premonition at the end of this fierce war.

  • Spain
  • napoleonic wars
  • Bonaparte (Napoleon)
  • Napoleonic propaganda
  • Goya (Francisco de)


Yveline CANTAREL-BESSON, Claire CONSTANS and Bruno FOUCART Napoleon. Images and history: paintings of the Palace of Versailles (1789-1815) Paris, RMN, 2001. Jean-René AYMES “How the Spanish guerrillas drove out Napoleon” in The story n ° 75, February 1985.Roger DUFRAISSE and Michel KERAUTRET Napoleonic France. External aspects Paris, Seuil, coll. "Points Histoire", 1999.Alain PIGEARD Napoleon's Army, organization and daily life, Paris, Tallandier, 2000. Gunther E. ROTHENBERG Atlas of the Napoleonic Wars: 1796-1815 Paris, Autrement, 2000. Jean TULARD (under the direction of), Napoleon dictionary Paris, Fayard, 1987, reprint 1999. Jean TULARD (under the direction of) The History of Napoleon through painting Paris, Belfond, 1991 Exhibition catalog Dominique Vivant Denon. Napoleon's eye Paris, Louvre, 1999.

To cite this article

Jérémie BENOÎT, "Les surrditions"

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