Napoleon I thumbnail 1
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Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Europe 1600-1815, Room 1

Napoleon I

Bust
1807-1809 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This bust of Napoleon I (1769-1821) is from a model by the French sculptor Antoine-Denis Chaudet (1763-1810). Chaudet worked in a Neoclassical style and the 'herm' form of this bust, with the shoulders cut off and straight sides, imitates that of Roman imperial portraits.

Chaudet made the original plaster model for the portrait in 1799. The final marble version of 1804 was the preferred image of Napoleon himself, who had recently been created Emperor of the French, and it became the official portrait, widely-reproduced. In fact biscuit (hard) porcelain versions of this bust in three sizes were made from 1805 at the Sèvres porcelain factory. Italy was under Napoleonic rule at this time and Napoleon had presented his sister, Elisa Baciocchi, with the principality of Lucca and Massa-Carrara, an area which included the Apuan Alps from which Carrara marble was extracted. She ordered the Carrara workshops to carve multiple copies of Chaudet's bust and no less than 1,200 marble versions of this portrait were carved by the workshops between 1807 and 1809. This example is probably one of these official portraits, originally made for public buildings in France. The majority were destroyed when the Bourbon monarchy was restored in 1814.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Marble, carved
Brief Description
Marble bust of Napoleon I, after a plaster model by Antoine-Denis Chaudet, Italy (Carrara), 1807-1809
Physical Description
Bust of Napoleon I in Carrara marble
Dimensions
  • Height: 59cm
  • Width: 28.5cm
  • Depth: 26.0cm
Measured by SCP (LS) and FTF (DH) on 20 December 2012 for Europe 1600-1800 Project.
Gallery Label
  • Bust of Napoleon I 1807–9 Napoleon created a link between contemporary France and the great civilisations of the past. His military conquests brought important works of art into French collections, emphasising his position as inheritor of a European tradition. The Empire style he promoted adapted the symbols and ornament of Imperial Rome. This portrait, one of a thousand versions, imitates that of a Roman emperor. The image of the new emperor was at the heart of Napoleonic Europe. Italy (Carrara) After Antoine-Denis Chaudet Marble Given by Sir Rennie Maudslay, Keeper of the Privy Purse and Treasurer to the Queen (09/12/2015)
  • 'American and European Art and Design 1800-1900' Chaudet made his plaster model for the portrait in 1799 and its form follows that of Roman imperial portraits. This was the image preferred by the Emperor Napoleon himself (1769-1821). No less than 1,200 marble versions were carved by the Carrara workshops between 1807 and 1809 on the orders of the Emperor's sister, Elisa Baciocchi, and this example is probably one of these official portraits for public buildings in France. The majority were destroyed when the Bourbon monarchy was restored in 1814.(1987-2006)
Credit line
Given by Major Sir Rennie Maudslay.
Object history
Chaudet made his plaster model for the portrait in 1799 and its form follows that of Roman imperial portraits. This was the image preferred by the Emperor Napoleon himself (1769-1821).
Historical context
No less than 1,200 marble versions of this portrait were carved by the Carrara workshops between 1807 and 1809 on the orders of the Emperor's sister, Elisa Baciocchi, and this example is probably one of these official portraits for public buildings in France. The majority were destroyed when the Bourbon monarchy was restored in 1814.
Subject depicted
Summary
This bust of Napoleon I (1769-1821) is from a model by the French sculptor Antoine-Denis Chaudet (1763-1810). Chaudet worked in a Neoclassical style and the 'herm' form of this bust, with the shoulders cut off and straight sides, imitates that of Roman imperial portraits.



Chaudet made the original plaster model for the portrait in 1799. The final marble version of 1804 was the preferred image of Napoleon himself, who had recently been created Emperor of the French, and it became the official portrait, widely-reproduced. In fact biscuit (hard) porcelain versions of this bust in three sizes were made from 1805 at the Sèvres porcelain factory. Italy was under Napoleonic rule at this time and Napoleon had presented his sister, Elisa Baciocchi, with the principality of Lucca and Massa-Carrara, an area which included the Apuan Alps from which Carrara marble was extracted. She ordered the Carrara workshops to carve multiple copies of Chaudet's bust and no less than 1,200 marble versions of this portrait were carved by the workshops between 1807 and 1809. This example is probably one of these official portraits, originally made for public buildings in France. The majority were destroyed when the Bourbon monarchy was restored in 1814.
Bibliographic References
  • Baker, M. In: Jervis., ed. Art and Design in Europe and America 1800-1900. London: V&A, 1987. pp. 28-29
  • Antour de David d'Angers, Sculptures du XVIIIe Siècle et du dèbut du XIXe dans les collections des musèes d'Angers. Catalogue of exhibitions held at the Musèe des Beaux-Arts. 3 Dec 1994-5 March 1995. pp. 64-65.
  • Cf. Leeuwenberg, J. Beeldhouwkunst in het Rijksmuseum. Amsterdam, 1973. p. 435. cat. no. 759.
  • Cf. Curtus, P., Friedman, T. eds. Leeds' Sculpture Collections: Illustrated Concise Catalogue. Leeds, 1996. p. 4.
  • Cf. Hubert, G. La sculpture dans l'Italie Napoleonienne. Paris, 1964. pp. 342-9.
  • Godfrey, Richard, James Gillray: the art of caricature, London, Tate Britain, 2001
Collection
Accession Number
A.17-1948

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record createdApril 27, 2006
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