Elisa Bonaparte Baciocchi
François Joseph Bosio (1768-1845), after Lorenzo Bartolini
19th century, White marble
This portrait represents the eldest of Napoleon Bonaparte's sisters, baptised Maria Anna and later called Elisa by her brother Lucien. Her name is engraved on the base, which also bears an inscription on the reverse: "BARTOLINI DIREXIT. BOSIO', which identifies Lorenzo Bartolini as the maker of the prototype and François Joseph Bosio as the artist who carved the bust. Bartolini, who had already been in contact with the Bonapartes during his stay in Paris from 1799 to 1807, became Chair of the sculpture department at the Academy of Fine Arts in Carrara upon his return home, thanks to Elisa Bonaparte, whose brother had given her the title of Princess of Lucca and Piombino, a territory that included the city of Carrara. Bonaparte, who was a lover of the fine arts, favoured the young artist and commissioned him to make portraits of her family. Bartolini’s magnificent bust of the princess (now in the Musée du Blois) dates to around 1807-10. Several replicas were made from that model: this one by Bosio is notable for being the only one bearing the signature of the artist, who was also linked to the splendour of Napoleon. The excellent quality of his art allowed him to remain in fashion after the fall of the Empire and to be appointed First Sculptor to the King by Louis XVIII, with excellent commissions such as the equestrian statue of Louis XIV in the Place des Victoires.