DAUGHTER OF AN EMPRESS QUEEN OF HOLLAND MOTHER OF AN EMPEROR
dinsdag 7 februari 2012
"I did not love the Emperor as a sovereign; I loved him as my brother, and I shall remain faithful to him until death."
(Sculpture by Antonio Canova)
As such, and thanks to the prestige of her family name and powerful connections, Marie-Pauline Bonaparte was painted and sculpted by the foremost artists of the age. She shocked conventional society by her love affairs - and for posing nearly nude for Canova's celebrated sculpture, Venus Victrix, a work that has been replicated ad nauseum since its completion in 1808. A memoirist, the Duchesse d'Abrantes, whose husband fell madly in love with Pauline and was unable to resist her charms, wrote of her, "It is impossible to form any correct idea of the beauty of Paulette from her pictures."
(Quote: Bingham, D., The Marriages of the Bonapartes, Vol. 2, 1881: 227)
But for all her scandals, she was fiercely loyal to her brother, Napoleon I, if not to her husbands. She was witness to Napoleon's unstoppable victories, sharing the moments of his triumphs; but when his fortunes changed and her brother fell from power and was exiled to Elba, she was the only one of his siblings (on whom, as emperor, he bestowed so many titles and thrones) to follow him there. Even after Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo, when he was stripped of his titles and reduced to a mere mortal, she begged to be allowed to join him on Saint Helena's in order to share in his exile. Her fidelity was unswerving and concrete-firm. So it is not surprising that, of his three sisters, Marie-Pauline was Napoleon's favourite.