Napoleon and His Army Effecting a Wonderful Passage of the Alps, at Mount St. Bernard

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This image, commissioned for William Henry Ireland’s Life of Napoleon, emphasizes the height of the Alps, using the watercolor wash style that Francis Towne had earlier made famous in his depictions of the English Lake District. Whereas the following caricature mocks Napoleon, in part by suggesting that the height of the wooden bridge is the only elevation he has to deal with, this image celebrates a feat that was widely admired, long after Napoleon’s final defeat. And yet Cruikshank’s title highlights the effect of Napoleon and his troops when in fact that effect is dwarfed by sublime power of the mountains, which radiate light.