Horace Vernet. [An Allegory on the Defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte]. Paris, 1815-1821. Aquatint. 17 1/4 x 26 3/4. The print was once torn in half, but has been expertly repaired. Also, a repaired puncture is at the middle of the right margin. However, the overall dramatic situation and graphic power, as well as rich aquatinting, overcome the repair.
Done at the time of Napoleon’s second exile in 1815 or at his death in 1821, this dramatic scene shows the Marshalls and soldiers of France mourning in the background, as a woman and the children of France desperately try to comfort their Emperor shown wrecked on a rock surrounded by a raging sea. The shipwreck in the foreground is the ship of the French state. A large plank is inscribed with the names of great battles in Napoleon’s military career.
The image was drawn by Emile Jean Horace Vernet (1789-1863), a member of the long lived and numerous Vernet family of artists. He was born in the Louvre in Paris and specialized in heroic and historical art. He and his father were both strong Bonapartists, even after the fall of Napoleon I.