Arthur Léon Imbert de Saint-Armand, The Memoirs of the Empress Marie Louise, London 1886
The present miniature depicts the Empress in her wedding gown but without the magnificent diamond and ruby parure, made by François Regnault Nitot, that Isabey depicted in the Salon portrait. Instead she wears a pearl necklace, earrings and comb, which suggest that this portrait was intended to be a more intimate record of the union; given that she was brought up modestly and simply, it was certainly more in keeping with the Empress’s personal taste.
Jean Baptiste Isabey (1767–1855), Dessinateur du Cabinet de S. M. Empereur et Roi, was one of the most favoured artists of Napoléon’s court, he helped to define the iconographic identity of the imperial family, not only by the means of portraiture but also by the ceremonies, fêtes and public festivals that he was called upon to organise. Having been previously the drawing master of Empress Joséphine and her daughter Hortense, Isabey fulfilled the same role for Empress Marie Louise. His affable nature eased any anxiety the new empress might have harboured about his connection with his former pupils, and rapidly an understanding developed between them. This rapport is reflected in the tender portraits he painted of her in the succeeding years, in particular those where she is depicted with her son the Roi de Rome, who was born in 1811.
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