2 of 86 portraits of Napoléon Bonaparte
by Benjamin Robert Haydon
oil on canvas, before 1846, based on a work of 1830
30 in. x 25 in. (762 mm x 631 mm)
Transferred from National Gallery, 1994
Click on the links below to find out more:
Sitterback to top
- Napoléon Bonaparte (1769-1821), Emperor of France 1804-14. Sitter associated with 86 portraits.
Artistback to top
- Benjamin Robert Haydon (1786-1846), History painter and diarist. Artist associated with 34 portraits, Sitter in 10 portraits.
This portraitback to top
Napoleon, the Emperor of France from 1804-1815, was one of the most notorious of Britain's political enemies. Haydon greatly admired the French leader and he painted dozens of pictures of him, bought his death-mask and even tried on his hat which, according to him, fitted exactly. His first Napoleon picture was painted for Thomas Kearsey in 1829 and was exhibited at the Western Exchange in 1830 as Napoleon Musing After Sunset. Haydon would eventually paint twenty-three versions and replicas of this popular work. A whole-length version entitled Napoleon Musing at St Helena was commissioned by Sir Robert Peel. In 1831, a year of great civil unrest in Britain, William Wordsworth wrote to Haydon of this work, 'If I can command my thoughts I will write something about your Picture, in prose for the Muse has forsaken me - being scared away by the villainous aspect of the Times'.
Linked publicationsback to top
- Holmes, Richard; Crane, David; Woof, Robert; Hebron, Stephen, Romantics and Revolutionaries: Regency portraits from the National Portrait Gallery, 2002, p. 109
- Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 452
Events of 1830back to top
Current affairsGeorge IV dies at Windsor on 26 June; William IV succeeds to the throne.
Duke of Wellington resigns as Prime Minister to be succeeded by Earl Grey.
'Captain Swing' disturbances among agricultural districts in southern England. Taking their name from a mythical leader, hundreds of labourers break the threshing machines that threaten their winter employment.
Art and scienceLiverpool and Manchester Railway opens; MP William Huskisson is run down by a train and killed at the inaugural ceremony.
William Cobbett publishes Rural Rides; a nostalgic tribute to the English countryside which expresses dismay at the sweeping changes taking place.