Propaganda during wartime has always been important to help bolster the troops, and it is often used gain the support of those who remain at home. Modern propaganda relies heavily on electronic media to get its message across, but this was not available during the time Napoleon came to power. While the printing press had already been invented, reading was not necessarily a skill relevant to many people at the time. They often relied upon music and art to help them fill in the gaps of gossip and newsreaders in public squares.
Patronage of artists was still prevalent during his reign, and many of the aristocracy of the time employed them to create works that celebrated the Napoleonic wars. Artists were not usually on the battlefields, so they relied on accounts written by those who were. Some of them were told what to create by their patrons, and others were given freedom to choose their own designs. Either way, their goal was to glorify the war in the favor of their Emperor.
One of the famous artists of the period was Jacques-Louis David, and he was directly under the patronage of Napoleon. His works glorified the Emperor during his rise to power, and he continued to create paintings during Napoleon’s rule. Even though some of his works were rejected, he remained Napoleon’s official painter throughout his rule.
Many of David’s pupils created works of Napoleon and his battlefield prowess. Antoine-Jean Gros was his official painter for battles, and he was in charge of painting the history of Napoleon’s battles. While he studied under David, many of his works showed the influence of Rubens as well as the Italian painters of the time. While his paintings had the detail of the neo-classical style, he also used the techniques of the Romanticism style to add vibrancy that gave life to Napoleon as a man and an emperor.