Napoléon III (1808–1873), Emperor of the French

Artist: Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux (French, Valenciennes 1827–1875 Courbevoie)

Date: 1873

Culture: French, Paris

Medium: Marble

Dimensions: Overall (confirmed): 20 1/2 x 14 1/2 x 11 3/8 in. (52.1 x 36.8 x 28.9 cm)

Classification: Sculpture

Credit Line: Purchase, Anne and George Blumenthal Fund, Munsey and Fletcher Funds, funds from various donors, Agnes Shewan Rizzo Bequest and Mrs. Peter Oliver Gift, 1974

Accession Number: 1974.297


Begun in 1872, this portrait of Napoleon III was not completed until after the fallen emperor's death on January 9, 1873. Summoned to England in early January by the Prince Impérial, the son of Napoleon III and Empress Eugénie, Carpeaux arrived in time only to attend and sketch the funeral services at Saint Mary's Catholic Church in Chiselhurst. The resulting likeness captures the emperor's saddened mood, preoccupied as he was by his defeat by the Prussians at Sedan in 1870 and his subsequent exile and ill health. Empress Eugénie cherished the bust for nearly fifty years until her death in 1920.