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Home>Collection & Louvre Palace>Curatorial Departments>The Empress Josephine (1763-1814)

L'Impératrice Joséphine (1763 - 1814)

© 2007 Musée du Louvre / Angèle Dequier

French painting

Pomarède Vincent

The widow of General de Beauharnais, Martinique-born Joséphine Tascher de la Pagerie, married Napoleon Bonaparte in 1796. Unable to provide the emperor with children, she was repudiated in 1809. Here Prud'hon shows her in the grounds of La Malmaison, a year after Napoleon's coronation. This dreamlike image is among the finest French examples of the open-air portrait at which the English painters of the time excelled.

The painter and the emperor's family

Prud'hon was the imperial family's favorite painter and the empress's drawing teacher. In this work, the principles of the neoclassical portrait are transformed and the use of a landscape setting, in the English manner, is the source of a romantically melancholy atmosphere.

Dreamily melancholic

On the verge of being repudiated, the empress Josephine makes no attempt to charm the viewer, whom she ignores, lost in thought on an outdoor seat. Her melancholic pose and the poetic woodland setting look forward to the Romantic passions of a Chateaubriand.

Napoleon III's art collection

This work was part of Napoleon III's collection and his private property. After his fall from power in 1871, it was assigned to the Louvre by a court decision of 1879.

Technical description

  • Pierre-Paul PRUD'HON (Cluny (Saône-et-Loire), 1758 - Paris, 1823)

    L'Impératrice Joséphine (1763 - 1814)


  • H. : 2,44 m. ; L. : 1,79 m.

  • Attribué au Louvre en 1879 , 1879

    R.F. 270

  • Paintings

    Denon wing
    1st floor
    Room 702

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