Bust of Jean Baptiste Jules Bernadotte
Giuseppe Ceracchi (1751-1801)
19th century, Bronze-patinated plaster
A native of Rome, Giuseppe Ceracchi had an intense and adventurous life, which unfolded during the difficult years of the second half of the 18th century, troubled years for artistic culture and political events, the two main interests of his passionate nature. A lover of beauty, he studied under Tommaso Righi and made a name for himself at the Accademia di San Luca as early as 1771. After this initial success, he began his peregrinations to various cultural capitals, including Milan, Florence, London, Vienna, Berlin, Amsterdam, and Manheim. In 1790, he made his first trip to America, almost as an exile due to his Jacobin sympathies, followed by a second trip in 1794, for the same reason. Settling in Paris, he took part in the conspiracy to assassinate Napoleon in October 1810, and, having refused to renounce his beliefs, was guillotined in 1801, at the age of fifty. An excellent sculptor, he never stopped working despite the vicissitudes of his life, and left effigies of many important personalities: in 1800 he sculpted the portrait bust of General Bernadotte, also an enemy of Napoleon, for which he was not paid, a fate that was common for many works by the unfortunate Ceracchi; the bust was made in several versions in plaster and terracotta, all signed, like this one.