Marie Louise, Empress of the French

François Joseph Bosio
1810, Marble

In this portrait, the Empress Marie Louise (1791-1847) is portrayed with an elaborate hairstyle, and a tiara on her head; she is dressed in an old-fashioned style, her chest enveloped in soft fabric, fastened on her right shoulder with a clasp. The bust was a great success at the time, and would become the official portrait of the Empress.

It was also reproduced by the Italian sculptors working during the period of the Empire. The sculptor who created this work, François Joseph Bosio, achieved considerable fame in the early nineteenth century because of the works Napoleon commissioned him to produce. Harshly criticised by the French for having abandoned Napoleon in his time of need, Marie Louise – who later decided to Italianise her name to Maria Luigia – was nonetheless much loved by the people of Parma, who called her the “good duchess”.