Bust of Napoleon I
Object Place: Europe, France
52.5 x 27 x 22.5 cm (20 11/16 x 10 5/8 x 8 7/8 in.)
Medium or Technique
Hard-paste biscuit porcelain
Out on Loan
On display at Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal, January 23, 2018 – May 13, 2018
Impressed at front center of base: SEVRES; Inscribed at front center of base: NAPOLEON/ A.M. LE MARECHAL BESSIERRES/ LE JOUR DE LA VISITE DE SA MAJESTE/ A LA MANUFACTURE DE SEVRES.
Signed, at front of base: Chaudet. f.
April 22, 1806, sold by the Sèvres factory to Napoleon Bonaparte (b. 1769 - d. 1821) for Jean-Baptiste Bessières (b. 1768 - d. 1813) [see note 1]; by descent within the family to the Prince Murat; March 16, 1987, Murat and others sale, Nouveau Drouot, Paris, lot 86, sold for 50,000 fr. 1987, Rosenberg and Stiebel, New York; 1987, sold by Rosenberg and Stiebel to the MFA. (Accession Date: October 28, 1987)
 This is the second of five life-sized busts of Napoleon created at the Sèvres factory between 1805 and 1808. The Sèvres archives indicate that Napoleon purchased this bust in 1806 for 1,000 fr. as a gift for Jean-Baptiste Bessières, a French marshal in the Napoleonic army. The bust is inscribed on its base: "A M. LE MARECHAL BESSIERES / LE JOUR DE LA VISITE DE SA MAJESTE / A LA MANUFACTURE DE SEVRES" [for the Marshal Bessières, on the day of his majesty's visit to the Sèvres factory].
Museum purchase with funds donated by Randolph J. Fuller, Mrs. Caleb Loring, John L. Gardner, G. Peabody and Rose Gardner Charitable Trust, and Mary S. and Edward Jackson Holmes Fund