WTF Art History

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  1. Tights Are NOT Pants: Napoleon Bonaparte

    Napoleon Bonaparte Moose KnuckleMoose Knuckle Is NEVER OK: Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Napoleon Bonaparte in the Uniform of the First Consul, 1804, oil on canvas.  Musée des Beaux-Arts, Liège, Belgium; Antonie-Jean Gros, Napoleon as First Consul, 1802, oil on canvas.  Musée National de la Légion d’Honneur, Paris ; Jacques-Louis David, The Emperor Napoleon in His Study at the Tuileries, 1812, oil on canvas.  The National Gallery, Washington, D.C.

    It’s easy to hate on Napoleon Bonaparte – he was short and French, what more do you need for ammo?  But what I love about Napoleon is that in three of his official portraits he rocked a full-on moose knuckle (male version of a camel toe)!  Today it’s easy to find entertaining, if disturbing, photos of guys with moose knuckles on People of Walmart, but scour the history of art and it’s not so easy.  But for whatever reason, Napoleon’s fashion sense leaned toward crotch-restricting pants that border on being tights.

    Napoleon Bonaparte Portraits

    Perhaps each portrait advocates the diminutive emperor’s virility since after all, the groin is quite prominent near the center of the paintings.  In the Ingres painting (at far left), the velvet culottes cling to his manhood, while in the Gros (at center) Napoleon appears to be equestrian ready in those tighty whities.  And then there’s David (at right)…  Major moose knuckle!  By the time David painted, Napoleon was full-on emperor so he could pretty much do as he pleased and I think that fact made him a little excited, as the portrait reveals.  Unfortunately, Napoleon was about as successful in fashion trending as he was in his military campaigns (can you say Waterloo?).

    So in the spirit of WTF Art History… Cher Monsieur l’Empereur, les collants/leggings ne sont PAS des pantalons ;)

    Napoleon Bonaparte, Tights are NOT pants

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