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Hill, Laban Carrick. A brush with Napoleon; an encounter with Jacques-Louis David.



HILL, Laban Carrick. A brush with Napoleon; an encounter with Jacques-Louis David Jacques-Louis David (August 30, 1748 – December 29 1825) was a highly influential French painter in the Neoclassical style, considered to be the prominent painter of the era. . (Art Encounter.) Watson-Guptill. 161p. c2007. 0-8230-0417-1. $16.95. JS

Except for the most avid student of art history, this will be a hard sell. But it does have a good story around the art history. The main character is Jean, a poor soldier (Zool.) the friar bird.

See also: Poor
 in Napoleon's army, an orphan. The story begins in a military campaign, with Jean injured in a battle in Austria and then taken back to Paris to recover. Attending him is the lovely, kind-hearted daughter of a physician; after he gets better, he stays in the military hospital as an orderly, working alongside Michelle. So, we have a lot of action, blood, gore, and even romance before the art history aspect of the story begins.

Jean is a gifted artist who had a chance to work on engravings for the military in the Egyptian campaign, winning the attention of an influential baron. In Paris, at the hospital, Jean meets Napoleon himself when the First Consul First Consul (French: Premier Consul) was a title used by Napoleon Bonaparte following his seizure of power in France.

Originally, three equal Consuls
 visits the wounded to award medals. With Napoleon is the famous painter Jacques-Louis David, who has the responsibility of "selling" Napoleon to the people as a visionary leader, a conqueror. Jean becomes a part of David's workshop at the Louvre Louvre (l`vrə), foremost French museum of art, located in Paris. The building was a royal fortress and palace built by Philip II in the late 12th cent.  as a team of artists work on the painting of Napoleon riding a rearing horse, leading his troops across the Alps. The painting is Bonaparte Crossing the Alps Bonaparte Crossing the Alps (also called Napoleon Crossing the Alps, despite the existence of another painting with that name) is an 1848–1850[2] oil-on-canvas portrait by French artist Paul Delaroche.  at Saint Bernard Saint Bernard, two Alpine passes
Saint Bernard, two Alpine passes, both used since antiquity. The

Great Saint Bernard (alt. 8,110 ft/2,472 m), on the Italian-Swiss border, links Valais canton, Switzerland, with Valle d'Aosta, Italy.
, one of the most important representations of the Neoclassical ne·o·clas·si·cism also Ne·o·clas·si·cism  
n.
A revival of classical aesthetics and forms, especially:
a. A revival in literature in the late 17th and 18th centuries, characterized by a regard for the classical ideals of reason, form,
 Period. (The painting is reproduced on the cover of this book.)

Themes of the book are class divisions, poverty, the horrors of war, and the role of propaganda in building empire. (It is Napoleon who said, "Truth is not half so important as what people think to be true.") Parallels can easily be drawn to modern governments and their PR machines that sell a personality, a war, or a fiscal policy. Also of interest are the details of painting itself: e.g., the blue for oils was from lapis lazuli mines in Afghanistan. Through Jean's eyes, we see Napoleon, with his facial tics, sitting restlessly at a desk in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles; we see Napoleon planning the great boulevards of Paris; we go into the stables to witness the training of horses to ride into war. A preface informs the reader about the importance of David and Neoclassicism neoclassicism: see classicism. ; additional information is offered at the end of the story, as is a helpful time line. Hill has taken this task seriously, creating a good coming-of-age story in an exciting historical era, with careful attention to the creation of art and the role of art in society. Claire Rosser, KLIATT

J--Recommended for junior high school students. The contents are of particular interest to young adolescents and their teachers.

S--Recommended for senior high school students.
COPYRIGHT 2007 Kliatt
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2007 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Rosser, Claire
Publication:Kliatt
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jan 1, 2007
Words:475
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