Marie Louise of Habsburg-Lorraine, Empress of the French
Lorenzo Bartolini (1777-1850)
19th century, White marble
In 1810, the sculptor François-Joseph Bosio was called to Compiègne to make portraits from life of Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte and his second wife, Marie-Louise of Austria. In that same year, the two busts were exhibited at the Salon du Louvre, the public exhibition of contemporary works, and were so successful that they became the official portraits of the venerated couple. For this reason, the emperor's sister, Élisa Baciocchi Bonaparte, princess of Lucca and Piombino, an area that also included Carrara and the best marble quarries in Italy, wanted several copies made from the plaster cast sent to her of that celebrated prototype, in keeping with the shrewd propaganda policy she pursued in favour of the family. Lorenzo Bartolini, the best of the sculptors working for the princess, who trained between Italy and France, executed this sculpture, which he signed on the verso: 'L. Bartolini'.