|Collection||Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery, Exeter|
|Artist|| Attributed to studio of Girodet de Roucy-Trioson, Anne-Louis (French painter and illustrator, 1767-1824)
Previously attributed to Dabos, Laurent (French genre painter, 1761-1835)
Previously attributed to David, Jacques-Louis (French painter and draftsman, 1748-1825)
|Date Earliest||possibly about 1804|
|Date Latest||possibly about 1810|
|Description||Napoleon commissioned a large number of portraits to promote his image as Emperor. This circular abstract composition with rays of light emanating from his head is similar to motifs used by the French Royal Family of the ancient regime. The laurel wreath around the edge, however, was a Roman device used often by Napoleon as a symbol of victory, for example in his coronation crown. Traditionally, he is said to have commissioned this painting from David to give to his sister, the Queen of Naples. She reportedly gave it to a Neopolitan noble when she was forced to flee Italy.|
|Current Accession Number||87/1869|
|Measurements||47.4 x 47.4 cm cm (estimate)|
|Material||oil on canvas|
|Acquisition Details||Given by J. C. Wilcocks 1969.|
|Provenance||Traditionally said to have been commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte; given by Napoleon to his sister, the Queen of Naples; given by the Queen of Naples to a member of the Neapolitan nobility; purchased by Frank Turner, Exeter, British Vice Consul in Naples; by descent to Rev. F. Turner; purchased by James C. Wilcocks, Duryard, Exeter.|
|Principal Exhibitions||Centenary Exhibition: Treasures of the Exeter Museums, Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery, Exeter, 1966, cat. no. 66; Art Treasures from West Country Collections, Plymouth City Museum & Art Gallery, 1970; Face to Face with the Past, Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery, Exeter, no catalogue; Making Faces, Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery, 2004, Laing Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne, 2004, National Gallery, London, 2004.|
|Publications||Illustrated Catalogue of Pictures and Sculpture in the City Art Gallery, Exeter, 1926, cat. no. 39, as by Jacques Louis David, ill. pl. 6; Baker, J., Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter: Catalogue of Oil Paintings, Watercolours, Drawings and Sculpture in the Permanent Collection, 1978, p. 48; Wright, C., Old Master Paintings in Britain, London, 1976, pp. 48, 240.|
A plaque on the frame, now removed, stated, '(A GIFT FROM THE EMPEROR TO HIS SISTER THE QUEEN OF NAPLES) PRESENTED BY J. C. WILCOCKS ESQ.' (Condition report December 2003). Incription previously attached to the back of the painting:
This likeness of Buonaparte [sic] was painted at his request by the famous French artist David, and was sent to Buonaparte, when he was Consul to his sister Mme Murat, when she was Queen of Naples. On the death of Murat, who was shot by his subjects, she quitted Naples, leaving this portrait as a present to a lady, one of the Neapolitan noblesse, whom the King of Naples used to visit. He, having expressed his displeasure at seeing the portrait in her possession, induced her to sell it and it was bought by me when I was at Naples [signed] Frank Turner of Exeter. I bought it at the palace of the noble lady. Friends of mine and of Mrs. Turner having hired some of the apartments of the Palace, she had committed the sale of it to them, and it was there I bought it. I was offered 150 guiineas for this picture by a dealer in pictures who had a collection of paintings at Carter's large room. At Paris it would fetch a good deal more or more than double that sum.
Backboard: National Gallery exhibition label, 'No. X4790'.
The attribution to Dabos is based on an engraving by Aubert after Dabos and Alexandre Tardieu, c.1810 (B.N., Est., N3). Another engraving is illustrated in Adhémar, J., and N. Villa, 'La Légende Napoléonienne', La Revue du Louvre, 1969, vol. 19, pp.179-185 at p.183, fig. 4, as after Prud'hon, 1807. In addition to the circular motif there is a globe of the world and two eagles. In 2003 Sotheby's expressed doubt regarding the Dabos attribution and referred to a similar painting sold in a sale of Old Master Paintings, Sotheby's, New York, 23 May 2001, lot 144, attributed to Anne Louis Girodet de Roussy-Trioson.
|Rights Owner||Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter|
|Author||Dr Anne L. Cowe|