The Wallace Collection

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The Empress Marie-Louise and her son, the King of Rome
  • Jean-Baptiste Isabey (1767 - 1855)
  • The Empress Marie-Louise and her son, the King of Rome
  • France
  • 1815
  • Miniature
  • Watercolour on paper
  • Image size: 17 x 13 cm
  • Signature: 'J. Isabey 1815'
  • M210
  • West Gallery III
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Marie-Louise, daughter of Francis I of Austria, marrid Napoleon in 1810 as his second wife after his divorce from Joséphine. Napoleon hoped that Marie-Louise would be able to bear him the son that Joséphine had been unable to provide. This she duly did in March 1811, with the birth of a son who was immediately given the title King of Rome. As this miniature is dated 1815 it was painted when the Empress and her son were in exile from France - they had left Paris in March 1814. Prseumably it was painted in Vienna or derived from studies made there by Isabey. Isabey and his studio produced many portraits of Marie-Louise, and he first drew the King of Rome when the child was only a few days old. the iamge of Marie-Louise and her son that Isabey presents in this miniature is remarkably informal, perhaps reflecting the reduced (though by no means humbled) circumstances of the sitters in 1815. With no jewellery or regalia visible and the clothes expensive but not luxurious, this could almost be any bourgeois mother with her son.