An outstanding provenance for an outstanding work: The neighbour, the cousin, the future husband

Bonaparte, C. N.

Vues pittoresques de l'Amerique dessinés par la Comtesse Charlotte de Survilliers 1824. [Picturesque American Scenes by Charlotte Napoléone Bonaparte].

Published 1824
Item ID 75799

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[Brussels, Stapleaux et Jobard, 1824]. Oblong folio (23.8 x 30.3 cm). Lithographed pictorial title page, printed by Jobard after a drawing by Michel Stapleaux; 12 original - early - lithographs with script captions [one with pencilled caption] and signed Charlotte. Contemporary half morocco over marbled boards. Spine with five raised bands and gilt title.

A very rare work, with scenes of the north-eastern USA in early lithography after drawings made by the French artist, socialite, and niece of the French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, Charlotte Napoléone Bonaparte (31 October 1802 - 2 March 1839). She was the daughter of Joseph Bonaparte, the older brother of Emperor Napoleon I, and Marie Julie Clary (1771-1845), Queen Consort of Naples. Her mother was the sister of Désirée Clary, Napoleon's first love. Charlotte married her first cousin Louis Napoleon, the second son of Louis Bonaparte and Hortense de Beauharnais, on 23 July 1826. She studied engraving and lithography in Paris with the Swiss artist Louis Léopold Robert (1794-1835), who is reputed to have fallen in love with her. In Brussels she was a pupil of the great French painter Jacques-Louis David (1748-1825). After her father was deposed in 1813, he moved to America and purchased "Point Breeze", an estate on the Delaware River near Bordentown, New Jersey. His palatial house was filled with paintings and sculpture by Jacques-Louis David, Antonio Canova, Peter Paul Rubens, and Titian. The surrounding park of 1,800 acres (7.3 square km) included landscaped gardens. Joseph Bonaparte played host to many of the nation's wealthiest citizens, and his art collection played a crucial role in transmitting high European taste to America. Charlotte, known as the Countess de Survilliers (this name also used here on the title page), lived with her father in New Jersey from December 1821 to August 1824. While there, she sketched numerous landscapes including Passaic Falls, her father's "Point Breeze" estate, the town of Lebanon, and others, some of which were engraved for a book of Picturesque American Scenes by Joubert. Extant landscape drawings by her include Passaic Falls, a view near Tuckerton, and Schooley's Mountain. She also painted portraits (Cora Monges, 1822; Emilie Lacoste, 1823) and exhibited her work at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Provenance: " Dessinés et lithographiés par la Princesse Charlotte Bonaparte fille du roi Joseph. Donnés à mon cousin" handwritten by Charlotte on the title [AND] " Monsieur Hopkinson" handwritten on the title. Joseph Hopkinson (1770-1842) was a lawyer, musician, writer, politician and judge. "Joseph Hopkinson was one of Joseph Bonaparte’s closest friends and neighbours in the United States. He also composed the lyrics to America’s unofficial national anthem. ... His father was Francis Hopkinson, a lawyer, writer, musician and patriot who signed the Declaration of Independence and may have designed the American flag. ... In 1791, he began practicing law in Philadelphia. .... As a young lawyer, Hopkinson established his reputation in some of the most famous trials of the day. ... One of the things Joseph Hopkinson was renowned for during his lifetime was writing 'Hail Columbia.' This was the de facto national anthem of the United States for most of the 19th century. It remained a contender until 1931, when 'The Star-Spangled Banner' officially gained the title. read more
'Hail Columbia' is now the official Vice Presidential anthem. ... In addition to their home in Philadelphia, the Hopkinsons had a small farm in Bordentown. It was here that they got to know Napoleon’s brother Joseph Bonaparte during his exile in the United States. Joseph Bonaparte shared Joseph Hopkinson’s love of art and his interest in literature and politics. They became close friends. In Joseph’s letters of introduction for Hopkinson’s children when they visited Europe, he speaks of Hopkinson as 'a great friend and neighbor of mine, and my nearest neighbor in the country.' When Bonaparte returned to Europe in the 1830s, he left Hopkinson in charge of his affairs in the United States and maintained a frequent correspondence with him" (S. Selin). We assume that Charlotte first gave this copy of her work to her cousin and later husband Louis Napoleon, and later, perhaps after their marriage, to Hopkinson. In any event, this double use underscores its rarity. The title page included was drawn by the Belgian artist, Michel Ghislain Stapleaux (1799-1881) who was another pupil of David. In 1834 he was commissioned to paint the portraits of Jérôme Bonaparte's family (i.e., another brother of Napoleon Bonaparte and uncle to Charlotte), and he is known to have painted a portrait of Charlotte. Boards a bit rubbed at edges; title page and first plate spotted, otherwise very good. Bénézit, 1, p. 754 (Bonaparte), and 7, p. 279 (Robert). British Museum website; Selin, S. (2014) Joseph Hopkinson, Joseph Bonaparte’s Great Friend ( Stroud, P. T. (2005) The Man Who Had Been King: The American Exile of Napoleon's Brother Joseph, pp. 88-113. Not in Sabin (neither is Joubert). read less

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