Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, The Apotheosis of Napoleon I, a brown-wash pencil drawing

France, AD 1859

design for an imperial cameo

Ingres' first portrait of Napoleon Bonaparte had been commissioned by the city of Liège in 1803. He was to paint Napoleon several more times during his career. In 1859, Napoleon III (a nephew of Bonaparte) commissioned the sculptor Adolphe David (1828-96) to carve a companion cameo to the largest surviving cameo from the Classical world: the Grand Camée de la Chapelle Royale, now in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris.

Ingres (1780-1867) made this design for David in the shape of the Grand Camée, based on his design for a ceiling in the Hôtel de Ville, Paris. The ceiling, executed by Ingres in 1853 (but destroyed by fire in 1871), showed the same subject as this drawing. Although David worked on this commission for thirteen years, no suitable stone was ever found. The final cameo showed only the central group of figures.

The date (1821), inscribed by Ingres next to his name at the lower left of the drawing is the date of Napoleon's death and, presumably, his 'apotheosis', or promotion to divinity.

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More information


J. Rowlands, Master drawings and watercolou (London, The British Museum Press, 1984)

G. Tinterow and P. Conisbee (eds.), Portraits by Ingres: images of (New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1999)


Height: 428.000 mm
Width: 380.000 mm (max.)

Museum number

PD 1949-2-12-6



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