Napoleon in private

Napoleon in private

  • Emperor Napoleon I on the terrace of the Château de Saint-Cloud surrounded by his family's children.

    DUCIS Louis (1775 - 1847)

  • Arrival of Archduchess Marie-Louise in Compiègne.

    AUZOU Pauline (1775 - 1835)

  • Napoleon, Marie-Louise and the King of Rome.

    MENJAUD Alexandre (1773 - 1832)

To close

Title: Emperor Napoleon I on the terrace of the Château de Saint-Cloud surrounded by his family's children.

Author : DUCIS Louis (1775 - 1847)

Creation date : 1810

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 105 - Width 403

Technique and other indications: Oil painting on canvas

Storage location: National Museum of the Palace of Versailles (Versailles) website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - G. Blot website

Picture reference: 93DE756 / MV.5147

Emperor Napoleon I on the terrace of the Château de Saint-Cloud surrounded by his family's children.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - G. Blot

To close

Title: Arrival of Archduchess Marie-Louise in Compiègne.

Author : AUZOU Pauline (1775 - 1835)

Creation date : 1810

Date shown: March 28, 1810

Dimensions: Height 112 - Width 150

Technique and other indications: Oil painting on canvas

Storage location: National Museum of the Palace of Versailles (Versailles) website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - D. Arnaudet / J. Schormans

Picture reference: 81EE1269 / MV.1751

Arrival of Archduchess Marie-Louise in Compiègne.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - D. Schormans

Napoleon, Marie-Louise and the King of Rome.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - D. Arnaudet

Publication date: March 2016

Historical context

As many paintings testify to the great events of Napoleon's reign are numerous, contemporary paintings depicting him in private are rare. No doubt a sacred man, a providential man like himself, the Great Man that he was, could not stoop to having a private life.
However, if in reality Napoleon did indeed have little leisure time to devote to his private life, one element remained unanswered: the future of the dynasty. In this sense, they are more than simple scenes of intimacy, like the one represented by Menjaud.

Image Analysis

THE DUCIS PAINTING

Presented at the Salon of 1810, Ducis' painting shows for the first time a paternal Emperor, playing with children in all simplicity. These children are his nephews and nieces, among others little Louise and Letizia, daughters of Caroline Murat, Queen of Naples, copied from the painting by Gérard (Fontainebleau museum). Ducis, a pupil of David, was also inspired by Gérard to paint in the foreground the young boy with the blue belt, Napoleon-Charles, son of Louis, King of Holland, and of Queen Hortense, and on the right a little to away, the eldest of the boys, Achille, Caroline's son, dressed in a military uniform, which his attitude poses in a way as the heir apparent to Napoleon. The military training of these young boys has already begun, as shown by the little soldiers with whom the little crouching prince, Napoleon-Louis Murat, always copied from Gérard, plays. However, it was the child held by Napoleon on his knees who would later become Napoleon III: it was Louis-Napoleon born in 1808, son of Queen Hortense and Louis, King of Holland.

THE PAINTING OF PAULINE AUZOU

Pauline Auzou is one of the many women artists of the neoclassical era. A pupil of Regnault, David's great rival, she has retained the softness and mellowness of her master's style.
His painting is the counterpart of another composition showing Marie-Louise's Farewell to her family, in Vienna, March 13, 1813, also in the Musée de Versailles.
Having repudiated Josephine in 1809 because of her sterility, Napoleon resigned himself to marrying the Archduchess Marie-Louise of Habsburg. After a marriage by proxy celebrated on March 11, 1810, the two spouses met in Courcelles in the Aisne, on March 27, 1810, before their arrival in Compiègne, which is represented here. Pauline Auzou was clever enough to avoid the overly classic face-to-face pattern. Although relegated to the shadows, the Emperor gives the painting its meaning. His scrutinizing gaze - he observes who he is dealing with for want of already loving his young wife - is opposed to the general enthusiasm which transforms the composition into a sort of allegory of Grace, through the intermediary of the myriad of young girls welcoming the new empress. This event table is therefore presented as a true history table, unlike the previous composition.

MENJAUD'S PAINTING

Napoleon, showing a passionate love for his son, born March 20, 1811, looks at the spectator as if to call him to witness the assurance of the transmission of power. The work is a response to the hopes of Ducis and Pauline Auzou. Empress Marie-Louise contemplates the scene with a smile of contemplative happiness, under the watchful eyes of Madame Auchard, nanny of the King of Rome, and Madame de Montesquiou-Fezensac, governess of the children of France, that is to say. say of the little prince. On the left is probably her husband, Pierre de Montesquiou-Fezensac, appointed grand chamberlain in 1810, unless it is Etienne Regnault de Saint-Jean-d'Angély, secretary of state of the imperial family , as suggested by an inscription on the back of the painting. Unlike the two previous works, the small-scale painting by Menjaud, also a pupil of Regnault, shows a real intimate scene. Madame de Montesquiou used to bring the child at the end of each meal for the Emperor. The latter played with him or showed him passers-by from the windows of the Tuileries.

Interpretation

In the first two cases, it is the expectation of an assured descent from Napoleon that is painted. At Ducis, it is revealed in the attitude of the boy on the right and in that of the little prince dressed in white, who both stare at the spectator of the work as if they were asking him about the future. imperial choice. In the case of Pauline Auzou, it is the enthusiasm of an offspring ensured by the beautiful face of this blonde girl dressed in red that was then the new empress. In Menjaud's work, the principle is reversed, and it is Napoleon who calls the spectator to witness.

  • imperial dynasty
  • Bonaparte (Napoleon)
  • Napoleon III

Bibliography

Jacques BAINVILLE Napoleon Paris, Fayard, 1931 reedited Balland, 1995. Louis BERGERON The Napoleonic Episode: Interior Aspects 1799-1815 Paris, Seuil, coll. "Points Histoire", 1972. Roger DUFRAISSE, Michel KERAUTRET Napoleonic France External Aspects Paris, Seuil, coll. "Points Histoire", 1999. Claire CONSTANS National Museum of the Palace of Versailles: Paintings , 2 vol. Paris, RMN, 1995 Jean TULARD (dir.) Napoleon dictionary Paris, Fayard, 1987. Jean TULARD (dir.) The History of Napoleon through painting Paris, Belfond, 1991 Collective From David to Delacroix , catalog of the exhibition at the Grand-PalaisParis, RMN 1974-1975. Dominique Vivant Denon: The Eye of Napoleon , catalog of the exhibition at the LouvreParis, RMN, 1999. Napoleon and the imperial family: 1804-1815 .catalogue of the exhibition at the Napoleon I Museum in FontainebleauParis, RMN, 1986.

To cite this article

Jérémie BENOÎT, "Napoleon in private"


Video: Napoleon PBS Documentary 1 Of 4