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Jean Baptiste Isabey (1767 - 1855)
Portrait of Napoleon Buonaparte, 1814
Museum number: P155
This miniature was painted on the island of Elba in 1814 when Napoleon was in exile. It was originally lent to Soane by Lady Beechey. She wrote to Soane in February 1830 saying that 'from the high estimation in which you hold the great talents of Bonaparte, I think it may be a source of gratification to you to have in your hands one of the best likenesses of that great man now extant'. She explains that because it had been given to her husband Sir William Beechey by a friend they cannot present it to Soane but can only lend it. In May 1830 she wrote again to say she had now sent it to Soane, noting ‘no one, I am sure, will more highly prize it’. In March 1835 Sir William Beechey wrote to request 'your entire acceptance of the picture as a token of my regard for the many kindnesses myself and family have experienced from an old and valued friend. P.S. I beg leave to add that the picture was presented by the Baron D'Este, of Paris'. This correspondence is reproduced in Soane's 1835 Description of his house and Museum.
Painted in Elba, 1814; presented by the Baron D'Este to the artist Sir William Beechey; lent to Sir John Soane in 1830; presented by Beechey to Soane in March 1835.
Sir J. Soane, Description, 1835, pp.42-53
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