Lot 227: First wife of Napoleon and thus the first empress of the French (1763–1814). Manuscript LS in French, signed "Josephine," one page, 7.25 x 3.75, January 27, 1808. Letter to the Minister of the Interior asking for his "goodness towards the painter Gerard. His present lodgings are too small for the large canvas the government has commissioned him to paint, and he would like to add the room left vacant by the death of Mr. Coquille. I take a great interest in this artist and I will be delighted if anything can be done in his favor." Letter also bears the stamp of the famous 'Lindesiana' Napoleonic collection formed by Lord Crawford in the 19th century. In fine condition. At the height of his popularity as a portrait artist—due in large part to his 1805 sitting with Napoleon, which resulted in the Emperor's favorite likeness of himself—Francois Gerard strove to elevate his career into historical painting. His greatest achievement, and likely the "large canvas the government has commissioned him to paint" referred to in this letter, was his magnificent portrayal of Napoleon's decisive victory at the Battle of Austerlitz. Unveiled at the Salon of 1810, it quickly became one of the most celebrated representations of Napoleon's reign. A scarce and desirable letter from the first French empress, showing her support for one of the foremost artists of the empire.
RR Auction's Fine Autographs and Artifacts Auction 453
Sunday, 17th May 2015
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