L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i

L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e  ~  D o s t o ï e v s k i

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Lucien Bonaparte and Christine Boyer, his wife - three portraits by Jacques-Henri Sablet

Portrait de Lucien Bonaparte à Aranjuez. If the title is correct - I do wonder - this would have been painted during his time in Spain, circa 1801.

Lucien Bonaparte, 1st Prince of Canino and Musignano (born Luciano Buonaparte; 21 May 1775, Ajaccio - 29 June 1840, Viterbo), next younger bother of Napoléon. Born on Corsica and educated in France, he was much more genuinely radical than his famous brother. And though still in his teens, he became well-known and influential during the Revolution, an ally of Robespierre, his rise owing nothing to family connections. In the midst of the Reign of Terror, in May of 1794, he married his landlord's daughter, Christine Boyer (3 July 1771, Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume - 14 May 1800, Paris). Apparently illiterate, in the six short years of their marriage, she had four children, two of whom survived to adulthood, before dying at the age of twenty-eight. (Three years later he married a banker's widow and had ten more children.) With his great vigor, audacity, and with a convenient lack of scruples, Lucien had been instrumental in his brother's rise to power, but not long after Napoléon became First Consul in 1799, the relationship between the brothers first became strained. Six months after the death of his first wife, he was sent as ambassador to Spain, but on his return to France he was increasingly at odds with his brother's politics. And in 1804, unhappy with Napoléon's intention to declare himself Emperor, and with his demands that Lucien divorce his second wife in order to make a dynastic marriage, he went into self-imposed exile, living initially in Rome. After the Papal States were invaded by France in 1808, Lucien and his family were virtual prisoners. Attempting to escape to the United States two years later, they were captured by the British and spent the remainder of the Empire comfortably in England. Believing Lucien a traitor - France and England were at war - the Emperor struck his name from the Imperial lists. But when Napoléon escaped from Elba, Lucien rallied to his side and stood with him during the brief return to power. He returned to Italy at the Restoration and, after more than two decades indulging his love of archeology and other artistic endeavors, he died there at the age of sixty-five.  

Exhibited at the Salon of 1799, this portrait shows Christine Boyer with a bust of her daughter Victoire who was born and died two years before.
Lucien Bonaparte au château de Plessis–Chamant. Christine Boyer was buried there. He was apparently devastated by her death; he retired to
the château, and his mourning was so protracted that his brother, Napoléon, eventually had to intervene. This portrait is a sort of memento of
the marriage. I don't know when this was painted. But he looks older here than in the first image, so it seems it would have to be after 1801
but before his remarriage and the artist's death, both of which occurred in 1803.
Sablet has copied the entire portrait of Christine Boyer from the earlier painting.

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