They are now on show at dealership Robilant+Voena’s Envisioning an Empire: Napoleon and Josephine reunite exhibition in London running until June 27.
The portraits by Italian neoclassical painter Andrea Appiani (1754-1817) were somehow separated in the past 200 years. Completed in 1796 in Milan, the pair are believed to have come to the UK the following year.
The exhibition is curated by Carolyn H Miner, who said: “The Napoleon, and likely the Josephine, were brought to Great Britain by Earl Wycombe soon after they were painted.
“A Whig politician, he hoped Bonaparte would limit the intemperance of the French Revolutionaries. In 1800 Wycombe distributed a print of the painting of Napoleon as propaganda, advocating the young general’s success.”
The portrait of Napoleon (Napoleon Bonaparte with Genius of Victory) is on loan to the exhibition from the Earl of Rosebery (Sotheby’s Harry Dalmeny), enabling the reunion of the pendants. It has been part of the collection at Dalmeny House since 1885.
The Josephine portrait is believed to have been inherited by Earl Wycombe’s widow, subsequently owned by Dowager Marchioness of Lansdowne, then in a private collection before being sold at Christie’s in October 1999 as ‘Portrait of a lady’ when it was bought by Duchess Salviati.
Josephine Bonaparte Crowning the Myrtle tree is on offer from Robilant+Voena with an asking price of £850,000.