- Museum number
- Object: Napoleon's father, mother, empress's, son, & all his brothers and sisters
Individual portraits of Napoleon I and his family (parents, brothers, sisters, spouses and son), bust-length, among foliate scrolls, forming a border to an advertisement for the Napoleon Museum at the Egyptian Hall, Piccadilly. 1843/45
Colour lithograph, printed in black, green, red and gold
- Production date
Height: 520 millimetres (sheet)
Width: 379 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- The Napoleon Museum opened on 12 April 1843 in the Egyptian Hall, which in 1816 had held a successful exhibition showing, among other memorabilia, Napoleon's carriage at Waterloo.
The proprietor of the Napoleon Museum was Mr Sainsbury (who gave the print to the Museum), a great collector of Napoleon memorabilia and admirer of the former Emperor, whom he thought had been unjustly denigrated in England (see introduction to the catalogue of his collection, 1843). Although some flattering reviews were reproduced in a 16 pages publication, 'The Napoleon Museum, or Illustrated History of Europe', Sainsbury's opinion on Napoleon's "wonderful character and uncommon genius" did not sit well with all of his contemporaries: Edward Mogg, in "Mogg's New Picture of London and Visitor's Guide to it" (1844) assessed rather scathingly that Sainsbury's enthusiasm was "worthy of a better cause" and that "as an exhibition the Napoleon Museum [was] not of a kind to interest the public generally".
The content of the museum was auctioned off by Christie & Manson from 23 June 1845. The sale was not a success: although - as indicated on the advertising text - Sainsbury had spent 60,000 guineas building up his collection, the sale only made £1,500 (see R. D. Altick, "The shows of London", 1978, page 252). John Ashton ("Gossip in the First Decade of Victoria's Reign", 1903) reported that "Messrs. Christie and Manson sold, at the Egyptian Hall, Piccadilly, on 23 June, the first portion of the 'Napoleon Museum', collected by Mrs. Sainsbury, and which had long been on exhibition. The prices fetched were ridiculously low, as the following examples will show. Among the bronzes, an infantine bust of the King of Rome, formerly in the possession of Josephine, at Malmaison, cost 20 guineas, sold for £1 10s. A drawing in sepia, by Debret, of Napoleon visiting the wounded on the field, after the battle of Eylau, £5 5s. The pictures illustrative of the principal events in the life of Napoleon, were almost given away; the highest price obtained, being £12 for one by the great French painter David, of Napoleon, with the crown raised in both his hands, to place on the head of Josephine, at the Coronation in Notre Dame. Twenty beautiful enamels by Lienard, of Napoleon, Ney, Berthier, Junot, Joseph, Lucien, Louis and Jerome Bonaparte, Murat, Caroline, the youngest sister of Napoleon, Cardinal Fesch, Marie Louise, etc., fetched but £76, and, on the other days' sales, the lots went for far under their value.".
- Not on display
- Associated names
Associated with: John Sainsbury
Portrait of: Napoléon I, Emperor of the French (Napoleon)
Portrait of: Marie Louise, Empress of the French and Duchess of Parma
Portrait of: Joséphine, Empress of the French
Portrait of: Joseph Bonaparte, King of Naples and Spain
Portrait of: Élisa Bonaparte, Grand Duchess of Tuscany and Princess of Lucca and Piombino
Portrait of: Carlo Buonaparte
Portrait of: Letizia Buonaparte
Portrait of: Lucien Bonaparte, Prince of Canino and Musignano
Portrait of: Louis Bonaparte, King of Holland
Portrait of: Pauline Bonaparte, Princess Borghese
Portrait of: Caroline Bonaparte, Queen consort of Naples and Sicily
Portrait of: Napoléon II, King of Rome and Duke of Reichstadt
Portrait of: Jérôme Bonaparte, King of Westphalia
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Acquired under the Copyright Act. Annotated in pencil: '12/3/44 Mr Sainsbury (by the new copyright act)'.
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number