David – the founder of French neo-classicism, artistically rethought the standards of classicism and updated them in accordance with the era. Ardent revolutionary, a supporter of the French Revolution, loyal to Napoleon and who believed that he is able to give the world what he needs.
“Napoleon on the Saint-Bernard Pass” – the picture is fully staged. It is not written in order to convey the historical reality and remind you how everything was – it was created to exalt Napoleon even more, to make his image shine. The horse reared up. She cries in the wind.
With a royal gesture, Napoleon points in the direction to where his army should go. Under the hooves of a horse, on stones that seem to be no longer a pedestal, names are knocked out – “Hannibal”, “” Charlemagne “and” Napoleon “are great commanders who went this way.
The solemnity and pathos of the picture are due to its purpose. It must be such because Napoleon must be a formidable gigant on it, a conqueror, before whom kings and countries bowed.
In fact, everything was a bit wrong. Napoleon seized Italy, that’s right. He traveled to her through the St. Bernard Pass, because from there he was least expected. It never occurred to anyone that he would lead his troops through the passes. But there was no solemnity in this – on the contrary. The army sank in the snow. The guns, taken from the wheels, were pulled by people on sleds – no cattle could stand the weather. Many soldiers died from the cold.
Napoleon himself once almost died – the mule stumbled on a steep slope and the commander almost flew into the abyss. It was a great march, and the picture of David shows his inner essence, hiding behind the theatricality of the backs, behind the fierceness of the clouds, how much blood and frostbite people left Napoleon on that pass.