Article cover

“The condition most habitual with him, work”: David’s Portrait of Napoleon in His Cabinet at the Tuileries

T. Lawrence Larkin

Published online:

29 Nov 2021



In Napoleon in His Cabinet at the Tuileries (1811–1812), Jacques-Louis David designed a new portrait type wherein the emperor appears to have been up all night working for the welfare of his subjects, furthering the legend of an indefatigable administrator. This essay explores the relationship between Scottish patron and French artist in the fulfilment of a commission, the process of working through post-revolutionary consular and imperial modes of portraiture, the references to civil and military affairs meant to affirm public reports about the emperor’s administrative accomplishments, and the conversation about the relative value of status and money as compensation appropriate for the achievement of a new portrait identity. Despite the brilliant subtlety of David's conceit, Napoleon was content to continue to subsidize the overblown imperialist rhetoric of François Gérard and others.

Other articles in this issue:

Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte Issues

Volume 87 (2024)
Volume 86 (2023)
Volume 85 (2022)
Volume 84 (2021)
Volume 83 (2020)
Volume 82 (2019)
Volume 81 (2018)
Volume 80 (2017)
Volume 79 (2016)

Get instant, unlimited access to this journal

Related titles

Would you like to receive monthly information about new publications and events?


Deutscher Kunstverlag

Genthiner Straße 13

10785 Berlin

+49 (0)30 / 27 90 76 - 0

Neumarkter Straße 28

81673 München