Portrait of Caroline Bonaparte Murat
Pietro Fontana (1782-1857)
19th century, Marble
Napoleon's beautiful, enterprising, restless, and ambitious sister is portrayed according to the neoclassical canon in vogue at the time of her social ascent. The portrait was appreciated by the Emperor and his family, particularly by Elisa Bonaparte Baciocchi who was responsible for the campaign of disseminating the Bonapartes' image. Elisa, princess of Lucca and Piombino, favoured sculpture as she had the best marble quarries in Italy at her disposal in her principality, those of Carrara, the birthplace of the artist who produced this noble portrait, which is both innovative and finely rendered. Fontana had attended Carrara’s Academy of Fine Arts, later moving to Milan in 1804, where he studied at the prestigious Brera Academy; in 1805 he went to Rome, where he studied the works of antiquity, approaching the great manner of Canova. In 1808, at Baciocchi's behest, he was back in Carrara. The princess's choice is understandable: the work is of remarkable quality, and the artist rightly signed it on the verso.