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Chapter 3

Re-presenting Contemporary History

Changing audiences, expectations, and experiences required new approaches to the representation of historical subjekts in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Paintings of contemporary history became weapons of political propaganda and later, instruments of political critique and vehicles of social reform. In devising images that glorified contemporary heroes, artists often distorted the truth and utilized familiar and venerable formulas that conveyed desirable associations. The Napoleonic wars led to escalating nationalist sentiments, which resulted in the establishment of national museums.


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Re-presenting Contemporary History

Web Resources

Napoleon Foundation

GeorgeMasonU: French Revolution Raft of the Medusa


Map of locations 

Europe in 1815


Poland - maps of 1772, 1793, 1795 partitions

Map of Germany in the 18th century - threre were several hundred independent entities (kingdoms, duchies, monasteries, free cities) which made it relatively easy for Napoleon's armies to conquer them