Proof before the letter, untitled.
By Augustin Burdet (1798-1871) in Moreuil (Somme).
Printed by Alfred Chardon Jeune in Paris.
Second Empire period.
In a large molded blackened wooden frame in the Napoleon III style.
Very good condition.
At sight: H. 68 x W. 45 cm.
Frame: H. 94 x W. 71 cm.
- Collection of Charles-Philippe-Henri de Noailles (1808-1854), 4th Duke of Mouchy, and Duchess Anne-Marie-Cécile de Noailles (1812-1858).
- Then by descent.
Although Napoleon III was never crowned unlike his uncle Napoleon I, this very rare engraving depicts him in coronation attire; it is reminiscent of that of Napoleon I according to David, suggesting that this similarity has no other purpose than to bring Napoleon III into imperial dynastic legitimacy and continuity.
We do not know of any other engraving in this representation except for the very official and widespread portrait of Napoleon III by Winterhalter.
Before the letter, our engraving was certainly produced with very limited distribution and given to the immediate entourage of the Emperor, as evidenced by the provenance of the Dukes of Mouchy, whose wife was a close friend and lady-in-waiting of the Empress Eugénie (the Duchess of Mouchy figures in the famous Decameron of Winterhalter). We also know that the imperial couple was regularly received at Mouchy-le-Châtel, not far from Compiègne.
Thus, our engraving takes on a historical character both by the provenance and by the novel side of the subject. If this engraving of an imperial portrait turns out to be a discovery, we do not know to date the name of its author or even the existence of the painting which could have inspired the engraver Burdet for the realization of his work.
Augustin BURDET (1798-1870), French engraver, student of Pierre-Narcisse Guérin at the School of Fine Arts in Paris. After training in mythological subjects (Cupid and Psyche, 1824), Burdet poured into the historical subjects of Great History, such as the Battle of the Pyramids, or the Taking of the Smala according to Horace Vernet.
This portrait of Napoleon III is a late work in the career of the artist who signs here one of his very last works, if not the last.