Napoleon - An Intimate Portrait

The Emperor’s Family

The second of eight children, Napoléon was close to his mother and siblings, who played a key role in his life and in the governance of his vast Empire. His brothers and sisters received royal titles and frequently were entrusted with regions of the Empire to rule, though none were to match his genius as an administrator. Napoléon was intensely loyal. His beloved first wife, Joséphine, and her two children, Eugène and Hortense de Beauharnais, forever shared a place in his heart, even after he divorced Joséphine in 1809 after nearly 14 years of marriage which unfortunately, had not produced him an heir. His second wife, the Austrian Archduchess Marie-Louise, quickly gave him a son he adored, born in 1811, whom he crowned the King of Rome.


“Prince Eugène de Beauharnais”
Queen Hortense de Beauharnais and Baron Antoine-Jean Gros - c. 1800
One of the earliest representations of Eugène, it depicts him at age 18 as Napoléon’s aide-de-camp in the Egyptian campaign. Napoléon was close to both of his stepchildren. He adopted Eugène in 1805, and then made him a prince and later Viceroy of Italy. Though Hortense was a talented artist, it is Gros’ genius at portraiture that shines through here.
Historical Provenance - Joséphine Bonaparte family collection
Oil on canvas

More images in this section:

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