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Napoléon I (1769-1821): M.1-1866

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Object information

Current Location: In storage


Napoléon I (1769-1821)


Sculptor: Chaudet, Antoine-Denis
Chaser: Canleurs, Charles Stanislas
Founder: Gonon, Honoré




Bust in herm form, titled NAPOLÉON, and inscribed 'Denon, directeur/ Chaudet, fecit/ Gonon; Canleurs, ciseleur. 1808.' on the proper right side

Bronze, cast, and chased. Of herm form, showing the sitter full face. On the front in intaglio: 'NAPOLÉON'. On the proper right side is inscribed: 'Denon, directeur/ Chaudet, fecit/ Gonon; Canleurs, ciseleur. 1808.'


History note: Baron Dominque Vivant Denon (1747-1825); sold Paris, 1826; Horatio Walpole (1783-1858) 3rd Earl of Orford of the second creation; sold Christie & Manson, 26 June 1856, Catalogue of Fine Italian Sculpture, Bronzes, & Terra-cotta . . . removed from a Noble Mansion in the Country, p. 10, lot 143, sold for £25.14.6 to to J.E. Fordham Esq. Melbourn, Cambridgeshire, by whom given to the Fitzwilliam.

Legal notes

Given by J.E. Fordham

Measurements and weight

Diameter: 26 cm
Height: 57 cm
Width: 30.5 cm

Place(s) associated

  • Paris ⪼ France

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Given (1866-03-08) by Fordham, J.E.


19th Century, Early#
Napoleon I
Production date: AD 1808


When the painter David met Napoleon for the first time in 1797 he enthused to his pupils: ‘O! My friends, what a beautiful head he has. It is pure, it is great, it is as beautiful as the antique.’ Chaudet’s herm-form bust gives permanence to David’s impression, and was the image adopted by Napoleon as his official portrait when he became Emperor. This bust is derived from Chaudet's marble statue of Napoleon, erected at the Palais du Corps Législatif, Paris, in 1805 (which was itself derived from a bust of Napoleon as First Consul, carved by Chaudet in 1799). The original marble of the present bust was a personal commission for Napoleon, the whereabouts of which is unknown. The date of the original model is also uncertain, but a replica in Tours is inscribed ‘Chaudet An XI’ (23 September 1802 to 23 September 1803). Numerous copies of the original model were made in marble (at Carrara) and porcelain (by the Sèvres factory). Bronze copies were cast in Paris for presentation to important persons by the Emperor. This cast of 1808 belonged to Dominique Vivant Denon (1747-1825, Baron from 1812), who had accompanied Napoleon on his Egyptian campaign in 1798-99, and was appointed Directeur géneral des musées français in 1804. A year after his death when his collection was sold by auction, the bust was acquired by Horatio Walpole, 3rd Earl of Orford (1783-1860).

School or Style


People, subjects and objects depicted


  • Sculpture UK

Materials used in production


Techniques used in production

Casting (process) : Bronze, cast, and chased

Inscription or legends present

  • Text: Denon, directeur/Chaudet, fecit./ Gonon; Canleurs, ciseleur. 1808
  • Location: On the side
  • Method of creation: Inscribed
  • Text: NAPOLÉON
  • Location: On the front
  • Method of creation: Incised

References and bibliographic entries

Related exhibitions

Identification numbers

Accession number: M.1-1866
Primary reference Number: 13546
External ID: CAM_CCF_M_1_1866
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Monday 18 December 2023 Last processed: Monday 18 December 2023

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Applied Arts

Citation for print

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2024) "Napoléon I (1769-1821)" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-02-22 17:04:25

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