Minerva Protecting the Young King of Rome

Artist: Joseph-Antoine Romagnési (French, Paris ca. 1782–1852 Paris)

Date: 1811

Culture: French

Medium: Relief: plaster, painted to resemble yellowish stone; frame: green marbleized wood

Dimensions: 45 1/2 × 29 in. (115.6 × 73.7 cm)

Classification: Sculpture

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1927

Accession Number: 27.191.2


This is the original plaster for a relief intended to celebrate the birth of Napoleon I's son, Napoleon II, or François-Charles-Joseph, in 1811, who was endowed by his father with the title King of Rome in symbolic confirmation of the imperial dynasty. The work was exhibited at the Salon of 1812. Its formal aspects were possibly inspired by Roman reliefs in the Palazzo Spada, Rome. A smaller plaster relief depicting the King of Rome with the she-wolf who suckled Romulus and Remus also exists. Due to the Bourbon Restoration of 1814, the marble version was never completed; the marble block was instead used for Romagnési's variant composition of 1817, Minerva Protecting France.