- Museum number
The apotheosis of Napoleon I; Napoleon in a chariot drawn by four horses and led by Victory is being crowned by Fame with a laurel wreath; an eagle is flying above; below another eagle guarding the Imperial throne left vacant, at left the personification of France grieving and watching as her Emperor leaves, at right Nemesis pursuing a man with a serpent; oval.
Graphite, with brown washes
- Production date
Height: 428 millimetres
Width: 380 millimetres (max)
- Curator's comments
The subject was painted by Ingres in a large circular painting of the 'Apotheosis of Napoleon' in the ceiling of the Salon de l'Empereur in the Hôtel de Ville, Paris. Ingres began work on the five metre diameter painting in 1852 and completed it the following year, the picture was destroyed in a fire in 1871. The composition is recorded in an oil sketch in the Musée Carnavalet, Paris (D. Wildenstein, 'The Paintings of J.A.D. Ingres', London, 1954, no. 271, pl. 100), there are also studies for the composition in the Musée Ingres, Montauban, G. Vigne, 'Dessins d'Ingres, catalogue raisonné des dessins du musée de Montauban', Paris, 1995, nos. 2165-2227. As John Gere first recognised the irregular rounded oblong shape and the differences from the painting, such as the omission of the rocky cliffs of St Helena in the background, identify the BM drawing as as study for a a projected gigantic cameo commissioned in 1859 from Adolphe David (1828-96) by Napoleon III, E. Babelon, 'Histoire de la gravure sur gemme en France', Paris, 1902, p. 229. This unrealised work was intended as a pendant for the first-century AD sardonyx cameo of the 'Glorification of Germanicus' (known as the 'Grand Camée de la Sainte-Chapelle') that since 1790 has been in the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris. Although David worked on this commission for thirteen years, no suitable stone was ever found and the final cameo now in the musée d'Orsay, Paris (OAO 1140) shows only the central group of figures with a distant rocky island (presumably St Helena) below.
In addition to the present reduced version of his ceiling painting, Ingres also made a watercolour in 1853 now in Bayonne and another in the Louvre, additional studies for the latter are in Montauban, Vigne, nos. 2246-2251.
Lit.: A. Delaborde, 'Ingres, sa vie, ses travaux, ses oeuvres', Paris, 1870, no. 223; J.A. Gere, 'A Drawing by Ingres', "The British Museum Quarterly", 16, No. 2 (1951), pp. 40-41; G. Vigne, 'Dessins d'Ingres, catalogue raisonné des dessins du musée de Montauban', Paris, 1995, p. 397
There is a medal of the same subject, after Ingres, by Eugène Oudiné, dated 1854, in the Department of Coins and Medals, Registration Number 1906,1103.1371.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1874, Paris, Palais Bourbon, no.616
1918, London, Burlington Fine Arts Club, Drawings, no.54
1972 Sep-Nov, London, Council of Europe, 'Age of Neo-classicism', no.670
1984, BM, Master Drawings & Watercolours, no. 132
1996, BM, French Drawings from the BM, (no cat.)
2005 July-Nov, London, National Maritime Museum, 'Nelson and Napoleon'
2015 July-Sep, BM, 'Unity and Simplicity: Neoclassicism in Europe'.
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Delaborde (cat. no. 222, Paris, 1870) states that the drawing was then in the collection of Francis Petit. According to the vendor, the drawing had belonged to her grandmother, Mme Rouher, the wife of a minister of Napoleon III. A pencil note added to the Trustees' report by Popham reads: 'From the collection of M. Francis Petit, the Comte (afterwards Marquis) de la Valette, who married a Mlle Rouher (daughter of Eugène Rouher), grandparents of the vendor, Comtesse D'Arcy.'
A facsimile engraving (impression in BM, 1878,0713.326) that may be based on the drawing was published by Durand (c.1875?) and states that it was in the collection of the Comte de la Valette.
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number