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  • Portrait of Josephine, the Wife of Napoleon

    Artist:
    Gérard, François-Pascal-Simon. 1770-1837
    Technique:
    oil
    Dimensions:
    178x174 cm

Gérard, François-Pascal-Simon. 1770-1837

Portrait of Josephine, the Wife of Napoleon

France, 1801

Marie Joséphine Rose Tascher de la Pagerie (1763-1814) was born in Martinique into a rich Creole family. By her first marriage she was wife of Viscount Alexandre de Beauharnais, general and deputy of the noblesse in the Estates-General who was convicted and executed for high treason on 28 July 1794. After her husband's death Josephine was imprisoned but soon released due to the patronage of Viscount Barras, a member of the Directoire. In 1796 she married General Napoleon Bonaparte. In 1799 she became the owner of the Palace of Malmaison (Chateau de Malmaison). In 1804-09 she was the Empress of France. This portrait of Joséphine was painted in 1801 by François Gérard, one of the most popular society painters during the periods of the Consulate and the First Empire. In spite of its large size, the portrait is stripped of official pomposity. Joséphine is represented full length, sitting on a sofa, against an open terrace of the Palace of Malmaisonas if she were taking a rest after the walk. The white dress in the “classical style” accentuates her graciousness and the repose of her attitude. The park-like landscape and a small bunch of flowers on the sofa create a sentimental poetic mood, underlying the inner state of the sitter. The idealization of the model and the static composition built upon a balance of horizontal and vertical lines are very much within the traditions of Neoclassicism.

Title:

Portrait of Josephine, the Wife of Napoleon

Place:

Date:

Material:

Technique:

oil

Dimensions:

178x174 cm

Acquisition date:

Entered the Hermitage in 1919; transferred from the State Museum Fund; formerly in the Leuchtenbergs' collection

Inventory Number:

ГЭ-5674

Category:

Collection:

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