Friday, October 19, 2007

Goya on Napoleon

Napoleon was brilliant at propaganda, which begs the question: Is the wonderful cocoon of luxury in the MFA’s Napoleon exhibit one more propaganda coup for Napoleon? There's little in the show about France's wars, conquest, and looting that helped make possible all these pretty things. French artists and artisans weren't the only folks inspired by Napoleon; Francisco Goya was secretly etching "The Disasters of War" (reproduced here, but not in the exhibition), a nightmare of massacres, torture, rape, and famine in Spain under French occupation. Of course, Goya’s work should not be considered reporting; he had his own political point to make.


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