donderdag 3 mei 2012

Jean Baptiste Isabey

Jean-Baptiste Isabey et sa fille, doorFrançois Gérard

During the Directory period Isabey frequented drawing rooms of Mme Tallien, Mme de Stael and Mme Récamier, becoming a friend both of the young general Bonaparte and his wife Josephine - he was later to be appointed drawing master to Josephine's children Hortense and Eugène. 

Painting Name: The Empress Josephine 1808

Over the years, Isabey amassed many titles and became successively: painter and draughtsman for His Majesty's cabinet; painter and draughtsman for ceremonies and foreign relations (one of notable tasks in this respect was to oversee the coronation); organiser of public festivals and fêtes at the Tuileries; draughtsman of the Seal and of Titles; first painter of the empress Josephine's chamber; decorator for the imperial theatres; and drawing teacher to the empress Marie-Louise, in which role he succeeded Prud'hon. This latter job brought him welcome security and his pleasant nature made him soon very popular with Napoleon's new wife; as a close acquaintance of Josephine's, he had been concerned about his position after the divorce. 

Jean-Baptiste Isabey, Portrait inachevé de l’Impératrice Marie-Louise, Aquarelle et mince de plomb, 0,25 x 0,145. Musée national du Château, Fontainebleau © Rmn / Gérard Blot

After Napoleon's marriage to Marie-Louise in 1810, Isabey became drawing master to the new Empress. Isabey painted Marie-Louise several times. Indeed, at the Salon of 1810 two watercolour portraits of Marie-Louise and Napoleon in their marriage costume were displayed; they were subsequently sent to Francis I of Austria (Schatzkammer, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna). In 1811, the birth of the King of Rome, gave him the opportunity to commemorate the scene of the presentation of the child by the new mother to Napoleon. He also produced miniatures and in 1812 executed a portrait of Marie-Louise and other members of her family (painting them in Vienna - these portraits are now in the Albertina Museum).

In 1814, Isabey remained faithful to Napoléon, despite being much affected by the death of his seventeen-year-old son during the Campagne de France. At Fontainebleau, the emperor enjoined the artist to serve Louis XVIII as energetically as he had served him.

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