D. V. Denon and Le Style Empire 1802–1815: Representation by Art, Political Propaganda or the Personality Cult of Napoleon Bonaparte?


Dominique-Vivant Denon (1747–1825) – “The Eye of Napoleon”, “The Minister of Arts of Napoleon Bonaparte”, “The Censor and Arbiter of the Taste of Napoleonic France” – held the post of the general director of museums in France during thirteen years, from the 19 th of November 1802 to the 3 rd of October 1815 and became practically the creator of “Musée Napoléon” in Louvre, the decorator and designer of imperial interiors, adviser of Napoleon I in the domain of art and the first real organizer of modern museums in France. Denon directed his activity to “the cultivation of art” which was the integral part of the cultural policy of Napoleonic regime demanding the social and pragmatic intensions of art. His aspirations in the presentation of Napoleon and his government via art tended to three dimensions of the projection of reality - the representation by art, political propaganda and the personality cult of Napoleon Bonaparte. These were applied by Denon in the various proportions and in the particular cases indeed in regard of the wishes of his governor. Despite the aspirations of Denon, the dimension of the personality cult of Napoleon did not became the official aesthetic doctrine of the Consulate and Napoleonic Empire, because that was refused by Napoleon himself and moreover, that was not ever been projected in the political activism as it came to be executed in the other geographical territories and regimes in the 20 th century.

Marian Hochel (1982), graduate of History and Aesthetics at the Faculty of Philosophy of the Comenius University in Bratislava (Slovak Republic) with masters thesis topic “Napoleon Bonaparte and the Circumstances of the Formation of Empire Style in France” (Bratislava 2005). Actually, Ph.D. student at the Institute of History in the Faculty of Arts of the Masaryk University in Brno (Czech Republic) and also “Pensionnaire Scientifique International” at Ecole Normale Supérieure Lettres et Sciences Humaines of Lyon (France). He specializes in the history of Revolutionary and Napoleonic France especially with a view to a cultural history. He is also the member of the International Napoleonic Society in Montreal and Czechoslovak Napoleonic Society in Brno.