Details & Cataloguing



An ivory miniature, Paolo Ferdinando Luigi Quaglia, circa 1810
oval, the empress wearing a silver-embroidered white dress, a two-strand pearl necklace, pearl earrings and gold-mounted turquoise demi-parure, later gilt-metal mount, rectangular ebonised wood easel frame

MN 4212

miniature 4.4 x 2.8 cm
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Eugénie, Empress of the French (1826-1920);
Prince Victor Napoléon (1862-1926);
Prince Louis Napoléon (1914-1997)


Related Literature:

Chiara Parisio, Ferdinando Quaglia, 1780–1853, da Piacenza a Parigi, Brescia, 2012

Catalogue Note

Paolo Ferdinando Luigi Quaglia, born in Piacenza in 1780, commenced his studies in his hometown, furthering them in Palma, under Gaetano Callini, and later in Florence. At the beginning of the new century he moved to Milan, drawn by the prospect of patronage at the Napoléonic court. In 1805 Giovanni Battista Maggi, another native of Piacenza and a member of the Legislative Assembly, encouraged Quaglia to move to Paris to study miniature painting. There he became a protégé of Empress Joséphine and part of her household, painting official portrait miniatures, both unique compositions and multiples that could be inset in presentation snuff boxes. He exhibited at the Salon between 1808 and 1824. As well as painting miniatures he worked in oil, and in later life he specialised in lithography. He died in Paris in 1853.

The present miniature is an example of one of the iconic portraits Quaglia created of the empress. Several autograph replicas are known, including one formerly in the collection of Stéphanie de Beauharnais in the Napoleonmuseum, Arenenberg (inv. no. 1214, Parisio, cat. no. 13 (other versions nos 14-17)). The image was also reproduced on porcelain, witness a Dihl plaque in the collection of the Musée national des Châteaux de Malmaison et Bois-Préau (inv. no. M.M. 70.12.1) and a Paris (Dihl et Guerhard) gold-ground imperial portrait cup and stand from the Lothian collection, sold Sotheby’s London, 28 March 2017, lot 429.