Beautiful bust in white Carrara marble representing the Emperor Napoleon I in Hermès.
The front face finely engraved "Napoleon".
Model created by Denis Chaudet (1763-1710) in 1798 and chosen by the Emperor as official portrait.
Height: 56 cm; Width: 28.5 cm; Depth: 23cm
Despite the many attempts by all the sculptors and despite the posing sessions granted to Canova, it was finally the bust created by Chaudet in 1798 and slightly modified subsequently that became the official effigy of the first Consul and then of the Emperor. This bust was distributed in very many copies, in plaster and bronze, but especially in marble. It was thus an important source of income for the Banca Elisiana de Carrara business run by the Emperor's sister. Chaudet was able to give an Augustan character to the face of the First Consul while retaining its distinctive features: the prominent chin and above all the lively and calm gaze at the same time. We know how much the Emperor wanted to be presented in the guise of a balanced organizer rather than a fiery warrior. The Hermes shape of the bust only accentuates the desired parallel between the emperors of ancient Rome and that of the French.
Antoine-Denis CHAUDET (1763-1810) held the Prix de Rome in 1784. After a long stay in Italy, he returned to France and produced the official portrait of the First Consul and then of the Emperor. Chaudet had obtained, by imperial decree, the exclusive privilege of the production of this portrait in various materials: marble, plaster, biscuit, bronze. However, the production of identical copies of his bust and their marketing escaped him in favor of the Banca Elisiana, created in 1807 by Élisa Baciocchi, sister of Napoleon, Princess of Lucca and Piombino, in charge of the Duchy of Massa-Carrara, where material and labor were cheaper than in Paris. The general feeling about Chaudet's work was expressed by Hector Sonolet, director of Élisa's bank: “We must also admit that Chaudet's bust will always have more research than that of Canova; it is more portrait, more in the general taste; the other is more learned, it is the genius of the Great Man, but it is not his face. "