Napoleon's diplomacy

Napoleon's diplomacy

  • Napoleon receives the Persian Ambassador at Finkenstein Castle.

    MULARD François-Henri (1769 - 1850)

  • The Deputation of the Roman Senate offering its homage to Napoleon. 16 November 1809

    GOUBAUD Innocent-Louis (1783 - 1847)

To close

Title: Napoleon receives the Persian Ambassador at Finkenstein Castle.

Author : MULARD François-Henri (1769 - 1850)

Creation date : 1810

Date shown: April 24, 1807

Dimensions: Height 230 - Width 280

Technique and other indications: Commanded by Napoleon Ier for the throne room at the Tuileries Palace in Paris. History: purchased at the Salon of 1810, n ° 591; sent to the Gobelins to be woven (fragment at the Malmaison museum); at the Louvre in 1816; entered Versailles under Louis-Philippe Oil on canvas

Storage location: National Museum of the Palace of Versailles (Versailles) website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palaissite web

Picture reference: 87EE1243 / MV 1724

Napoleon receives the Persian Ambassador at Finkenstein Castle.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais

To close

Title: The Deputation of the Roman Senate offering its homage to Napoleon. 16 November 1809

Author : GOUBAUD Innocent-Louis (1783 - 1847)

Creation date : 1807

Date shown: November 16, 1805

Dimensions: Height 236 - Width 373

Technique and other indications: Oil on canvasHistoric owners: bought at the Salon of 1810, n ° 381; sent to the Gobelins (fragment woven at the Malmaison museum); Louvre reserves; entered Versailles in 1835

Storage location: National Museum of the Palace of Versailles (Versailles) website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palaissite web

Picture reference: 86EE1150 / MV 1506

The Deputation of the Roman Senate offering its homage to Napoleon. 16 November 1809

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais

Publication date: March 2016

Historical context

Napoleon's design was always to isolate England from the European countries, most often subsidized by the great rival of France in order to provoke war on the continent. But England, which possessed the money, flooded empires and kingdoms with caricatures that continually recalled the origins of the "usurper" and "adventurer".

Image Analysis

Napoleon receives the Persian Ambassador at Finkenstein Castle by François-Henri Mulard

An ally of England against Russia, the Shah of Persia Fath’Ali turned to France when he saw that his first ally was hardly helping him in his sights on Yerevan, the capital of Armenia. An ambassador, Mirza Reza, was sent to Napoleon, who received him at Finkenstein Castle, his headquarters in East Prussia. On May 4, 1807, a treaty of alliance was signed between the two countries. But the Franco-Russian alliance of Tilsit (July 7, 1807) ruined it immediately, and the English exploited this turnaround.

The work of Mulard, a pupil of David, shows the arrival of the suite of Mirza Reza presented to Napoleon by the vice-consul of France in Baghdad, Georges Outrey. It is very significant of the hopes that the Persians placed in Napoleon. The ambassador's pleading attitude is unambiguous on this point. But if one finds there the usual attitude of passive reception of the Emperor, the painting is also intended to be a very strong testimony of Napoleon's world policy. The latter, however, is not represented in the attitude of the strategist with immense and profound views, as in the Bivouac of Wagram de Roehn, for example, and the work is ultimately only a brilliant representation of an event of which it undoubtedly offers the only significant iconographic trace. It should be noted, however, that it is part of the context of oriental painting, heir to the turqueries and rococo chinoiseries of the 18th century and put into a more realistic fashion thanks to Bonaparte's Egyptian campaign. In this sense, it is one of the first works of its kind with certain paintings by Girodet, before the romantic compositions of Delacroix (The Massacres of Scio), for example.

The Deputation of the Roman Senate offering its homage to Napoleon. 16 November 1809 by Innocent-Louis Goubaud

The work of Goubaud, drawing teacher to the King of Rome, represents a key moment in the relationship between the Emperor and Pope Pius VII. After militarily occupying the city of Rome in 1807, Napoleon ordered its annexation to the Empire in 1809, during the Austrian campaign. Pius VII immediately excommunicated him and Napoleon responded by taking him prisoner.
It is therefore the Roman Senate, a new Roman government - with the arrival of a deputation from Tuscany on that day - which appears before Napoleon in the Throne Room at the Tuileries. This former parade chamber of Louis XIV was embellished by the work carried out in 1804 based on drawings by Percier and Fontaine.

Dressed in the "little costume" designed by Jean-Baptiste Isabey, Napoleon is seated under an immense canopy supported by a platform which elevates the sacred man that he is. The throne is the work of Jacob-Desmalter on a project by Percier and Fontaine. It is flanked by two signs surmounted by eagles, which are also the work of Jacob-Desmalter. The ceremony is regulated according to an etiquette desired by the Emperor himself and taken from the royal protocol of the Ancien Régime. All this pomp is deployed to impress the Romans, whose suspicious looks betray feelings unfavorable to Napoleon. All the dignitaries of the Empire are present, through which Cardinal Fesch, Napoleon's uncle and grand chaplain, behind whom we recognize Cambacérès, Talleyrand and Bessières.


These two very different works evoke a Napoleon who never ceased to work on his enterprise of political overhaul of Europe, even in times of war (painting by Mulard). But if he is above all the military sovereign known from the pictures, he may also seek to impose it in a more difficult context such as that of his relations with the papacy. It is then the sacred man who, like King Philip the Fair, displays all his power as a monarch by divine right in order to compete with the sovereign pontiff. Although above all retracing a simple event of Napoleon's reign, Goubaud's work in a way joins the great paintings of David by the meaning it tends to give to the face-to-face between the Emperor and the Roman senators. . This is also the reason why Cardinal Fesch is so prominently displayed at the foot of the imperial platform. More than a reception, it is a real political struggle that underlies the picture.

  • embassies
  • Bonaparte (Napoleon)
  • alliance policy
  • Talleyrand-Périgord (Charles-Maurice de)
  • Tuileries Palace
  • Cambaceres (Jean-Jacques-Régis de)


Jacques BAINVILLE Napoleon Paris, Fayard, 1931, reed. Balland, 1995. Claire CONSTANS National Museum of the Palace of Versailles. The Paintings, 2 vol.Paris, RMN, 1995. Roger DUFRAISSE and Michel KERAUTRET Napoleonic France. External aspects Paris, Seuil, coll. “Points Histoire”, 1999.Annie JOURDAN Napoleon, hero, imperator, patron Paris, Aubier, 1998. Georges LEFEBVRE Napoleon Paris, PUF, 1969.TULARD (Jean) (dir.) Napoleon dictionary Paris, Fayard, 1987.TULARD (Jean) (dir.) The History of Napoleon through painting Paris, Belfond, 1991 Jean TULARD and Louis GARROS Day by day Napoleon's itinerary. 1769-1821 Paris, Tallandier, 1992.Catal Collective. expo.From David to Delacroix Paris, Grand Palais, 1974-1975.

To cite this article

Jérémie BENOÎT, "Napoleon's diplomacy"

Video: Diplomacy Commentary - Normal Game-8