Portrait of Josephine de Beauharnais
François Joseph Bosio (1768-1845)
19th century, Marble
The Franco Maria Ricci collection includes another portrait of Napoleon's family by the excellent Monegasque sculptor, Bosio – that of Napoleon’s sister Elisa Bonaparte. After working in Italy in the last decade of the 18th century, Bosio was called back to Paris at the beginning of the 19th century to execute the bas-relief of the Grande Armée column in Place Vendome; he became Napoleon's portraitist and, in that capacity, executed this stupendous bust of his first wife, Empress Josephine de Beauharnais. This portrait shows a superb purity of line, a direction the artist pursued during his time in Italy which is also evidence of his admiration of the art of Antonio Canova: the choice of portraying the beautiful woman in very simple attire, in a manner that demonstrates a fascination with antiquity, is also reminiscent of the great sculptor's example.