The Fine Arts and the Napoleonic Wars

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Carl von Clausewitz famously asserted that the French Revolution made war ‘the business of the people’.1 Visual depictions of the Napoleonic Wars from the period suggest that something had indeed fundamentally changed: such images were not only more available than ever before to a broad public; they also addressed the interests and desires of far greater numbers of people. The new ways of depicting war varied enormously from country to country, depending on local traditions, art institutions and patronage practices, but across Europe representations of the wars concerned themselves as never before with the plight of the common soldier, the human costs of war, and the definition and advancement of the nation, even in places where the French Revolution seemed to have had little impact. This chapter focuses on the effects of the wars on painting and sculpture, but it also makes clear that the Napoleonic Wars brought the fine arts into a closer dialogue with more popular forms, especially prints, and with ideas of cultural heritage and national patrimony.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge History of the Napoleonic Wars
Subtitle of host publicationVolume 3: Experience, Culture and Memory
EditorsAlan Forrest, Peter Hicks
PublisherCambridge University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9781108278119
ISBN (Print)9781108417679
StatePublished - Sep 2022


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