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THE ESPRIT

The image of the sovereign

Portrait of Napoleon I. Ajaccio, Maison Bonaparte
Portrait of Napoleon I. Ajaccio, Maison Bonaparte

In their portraits, men and women of power sanction their own status – real or yearned for – creating at the same time the image of themselves that will be transmitted to contemporaries and passed down to posterity. The Bonaparte family understood this mechanism well and worked within it in a memorable way: the physical features of Napoleon are indelibly sculpted in the collective imagination before his acts, just as the beauty of Pauline and the powerful dignity of Letizia Ramolino are unforgettable because wisely exalted. This result was also obtained through recourse to the best artists of the age, who found in the imperial family patronage that was simultaneously demanding and generous, in good part responsible for their rise to the highest levels of the artistic history of the epoch.

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