Andrea Appiani (Milan 1754-1817) Portrait of Napoleon Bonaparte, bust length, in profile

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Lot 4*
Andrea Appiani
(Milan 1754-1817)
Portrait of Napoleon Bonaparte, bust length, in profile

Sold for £ 50,250 (US$ 62,777) inc. premium
Andrea Appiani (Milan 1754-1817)
Portrait of Napoleon Bonaparte, bust length, in profile
Signed "A Appiani" Dedic. "Dal vero a SELa Comtesse Hartig/Marchessa J De..."
pencil, black and white chalk on tanned paper
20.5 x 18cm


  • Provenance:
    The von Hartig family

    The present portrait is believed to have been drawn from life by Andrea Appiani, whose close association with Napoleon was of paramount importance. In 1796 on the entry of the French General into Milan, Appiani made a celebrated pencil portrait of him (now in the Brera, Milan), which won him the favour of Napoleon and numerous commissions within the Cisalpine Republic. Appiani also designed many medals and the headings for official papers and was put in charge of choosing the works of art to be requisitioned and sent to France. In 1801 the artist was sent to the Assembly at Lyons and also travelled to Paris, where he made numerous portraits of members of the Bonaparte family. The present portrait is believed to be very close to the artist's drawing of Eugène de Beauharnais, Napoleon's stepson, in the Museo Correr in Venice. After returning to Milan in 1803 he painted the celebrated portraits of Napoleon and Francesco Melzi (both in the Villa Melzi-d'Eril in Bellagio) and in the same year he began work on the Fasti di Napoleone, a series of 35 monochrome canvases for the Sala delle Cariatidi in the Palazzo Reale, in Milan, which he completed in 1807 (now destroyed, but engraved under the supervision of Appiani himself and the direction of Giuseppe Longhi). His further decorations in the state rooms of the Palazzo Reale were notable and, while also largely destroyed in 1943, his Apotheosis of the Emperor Napoleon on the vault of the Sala di Trono survives. In 1804 Appiani went to Paris for the Emperor's coronation and in 1805 he painted the portrait of Napoleon, King of Italy (now in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna).

    Along with the sculptor, Antonio Canova, Appiani was arguably the chief exponent of Italian Neo-classical art, valued for his impeccable technique and superb handling, whether in drawings, oil paintings, or frescoes. His particular style, which displayed a delicate gradation of tone was inspired by Correggio and by the school of Leonardo and marks his works apart from the severe and statuesque manner of Jacques-Louis David. The effects of softness and luminosity so apparent in his drawings are also found in his paintings, which appear to have been equally executed with the same extraordinary facility and grace.

    Heinrich von Bellegarde (1756 – 1845), whose mother was a Countess von Hartig, entered into Austria's service in 1778 and served with distinction during the campaigns between 1793 and 1795. In 1796, following these campaigns, he was made Feldmarschallleutnant and chief of military staff to Archduke Charles. The following year, he negotiated the Treaty of Leoben, the preliminary accord to the Treaty of Campo Formio, with Napoleon Bonaparte. In 1799, he was made commander of a corps in eastern Switzerland which was to ensure communication between the armies of Souvarov and Archduke Charles. In 1806, he was named Feldmarschall and civil and military governor of Gallacia. During the 1809 campaign, he commanded the first corps of the Austrian army, under Archduke Charles. He distinguished himself at Essling (21-22 May) and Wagram (5-6 July). Following the Treaty of Schönbrunn in 1809, he once again became governor of Gallicia but was often called to preside over meetings of the Aulic Council. In 1813, he was called to lead the Austrian army in Italy and in 1814, he concluded the armistice with Eugène de Beauharnais. Between 1814 and 1815, he was governor of Lombardy and Venetia. During this time, he came up against Murat at the banks of the river Po and defeated him at Occhiobello and Casaglia in 1815. In 1816, Bellegarde spent some time in Paris, but was soon recalled to again preside over the Aulic Council, a post which he held until 1825.
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