Napoleon - An Intimate Portrait

Emperor’s horse Tauris

Emperor’s horse Tauris

Carle Vernet - c. 1810

Napoléon owned and used over 150 horses during the course of his life, 19 of which were shot out from under him. Tauris, a silvery grey, slightly dappled Persian, was a gift from Tsar Alexander I. Napoléon rode him at the battles of Vitebsk, Smolensk and Borodino, during his entrance into Moscow, and during the retreat from Russia. He also rode him from the coast of France to Paris during the Hundred Days.

Of his equestrian skills, Napoléon’s valet Constant wrote, “The Emperor mounted a horse without grace... and I believe that he would not have always been very sturdy on the horse if we had not taken so much care to give him only horses perfectly trained.” Similarly, Ernst Otto Odeleben wrote, “Napoléon rode like a butcher...whilst galloping, his body rolled backwards and forwards and sideways, according to the speed of his horse.”

Historical Provenance - Marshal Koenig collection

India ink on paper

Images © Chalençon
A Traveling Exhibition from Russell Etling Company (c) 2011