Impératrice Joséphine, Correspondance, 1782–1814, Bernard Chevallier, Maurice Catinat & Christophe Pincemaille eds, Paris, 1996;
Bernardo Falconi, Fernando Mazzocca & Anna Maria Zuccotti, Giambattista Gigola 1767–1841 e il ritratto in miniatura a Brescia tra Settecento e Ottocento, Geneva/Milan, 2001
Empress Joséphine, writing to her daughter Hortense from Munich in December 1805, observed of her future daughter-in-law, Augusta Amalia of Bavaria, ‘The princess unites in one charming figure all the qualities that render a wife interesting and amiable’ (Joséphine, letter 248). Born in Strasburg in 1788 to Maximilian I Joseph of Bavaria and Augusta Wilhelmine of Hesse-Darmstadt, Augusta Amalia was originally promised to Charles of Baden. At the request of Napoléon I, however, she married his adopted son Eugène de Beauharnais on 14 January 1806 in Munich, and Bavaria was made a Kingdom in return.
Born in Brescia, Giovanni Battista Gigola (1769–1841) studied in Milan in the early 1790s and later in Rome, where he frequented the Accademia di San Luca and won a first prize in composition. After a sojourn in his hometown he moved to Paris, exhibiting at the Salon from 1802 to 1804. He then returned to Milan where he entered the service of Eugène de Beauharnais, recently appointed Viceroy of Italy. As well as portrait miniatures, Gigola also painted Troubadour pictures, with subjects ranging from Byron’s Corsair, to Romeo and Juliet and the history of Lombardy.
For the viceregal family he created both formal and informal portraits. Of the former, two of the most striking are the half-length portraits of the viceroy as Prince of Venice, dated 1807 (Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris, inv. no. 811; Falconi et al, cat. no.136), and the vicereine with her eldest daughter, the Princess of Bologna, dated 1809 (Hessische Haussiftung, Kronberg; ibid., cat. no. 141). It is interesting to contrast the hierarchical formality in this portrait of the vicereine, wearing a jewelled and cameo-set tiara, with the informality of the present miniature, where she is depicted relaxed and surrounded by her four eldest children. This exceptional unpublished work is the most evolved example of Gigola’s informal viceregal portraits. In some ways it can be seen as a fusion of two other miniatures by the artist: the vicereine wearing a white veil (Bayerisches Nationalmuseum, Munich, ibid., cat. no. 140) and three children of the viceroy (Ateneo di Scienze, Lettere e Arti, Brescia, inv. no. 1401; ibid., cat. no. 144).
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