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Ashley Givens from the V+A, London, will be presenting a short paper about her research titled Painted and Photographic Portraits of Napoléon III and the Empress Eugénie at the Courtauld's Postgraduate symposium in London on Friday 11 March. Details are here: Entry is free.

Her abstract is below:

Painted and Photographic Portraits of Napoléon III and the Empress Eugénie
This dissertation explores the issues surrounding the public display and circulation of portraits of one of the mid-Nineteenth Century’s best-known figures, the Emperor of France, Napoléon III. The purpose is to understand how images of Napoléon III were conceived and created in various modes, and how they were then assessed by critics and disseminated among constituents. Many portraits of the Emperor were officially commissioned or sanctioned as appropriate depictions of France’s sovereign. These provide some sense of the range of roles played by the Emperor (and his wife and son).
In this symposium paper the roles include military commander, diplomat and redeemer of the people. This paper analyses a range of depictions which were broadly considered genre paintings. Alongside the portraits, genre paintings present a parallel means of relaying and, further, reinforcing information about the sovereign to his people. Themes of the paper include the relationship between nature and artifice and efforts to find a rhetoric for inscribing Napoléon III in France’s unfolding history. It examines which events of the 1850s and 1860s were chosen for commemoration, or as opportunities to showcase the work of the Emperor, as well as the reception of the resulting paintings.

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