Crossing the Alps

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Like the preceding image, this image depicts one of Napoleon’s most famous and decisive achievements, crossing the Alps in early spring to surprise Italian forces on the plains of Italy. As an action that deliberately echoed Hannibal’s much earlier, and equally famous, crossing of the Alps to defeat the Carthaginians, the event was memorialized by Jacques Louis David in heroic terms in his 1802 painting Crossing the Alps. Cruikshank’s rather less heroic representation conforms to later accounts, which insisted that Napoleon’s passage was stage managed by many helping hands. The figure with the conical hat at the lower edge of the image needs identification.