Napoleon Crowning Himself, with Pope Pius VII
Napoleon Crowning Himself / David

Napoleon crowned himself emperor of France in December 1804. He then turned to his wife Josephine and crowned her empress. This drawing represents David's first idea for a painting commemmorating the event. Napoleon boldly crowns himself while holding his sword to his heart, demonstrating the military basis of his power. Pope Pius VII sits behind him.

Political winds shifted as David labored on the enormous painting of the coronation. Napoleon's self-crowning came to seem haughty and aggressive, and David revised the composition to show Napoleon crowning Josephine instead. David also followed Napoleon's instructions to show the pope raising his arm in blessing.