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Artist: Carpeaux, Jean Baptiste 1 of 1
Louis Bonaparte, The Prince Imperial

Louis Bonaparte, The Prince Imperial, c.1867

Jean Baptiste Carpeaux
French, 1827-1875
12-3/4 in. (32.4 cm)
Norton Simon Art Foundation
© Norton Simon Art Foundation

Not on View

Just like the academic painters of the day, the sculptor Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux trained at the École des Beaux-Arts. As the son of a bricklayer, he found that his goal of garnering official commissions—sculptors simply could not survive without them—was not reached until after a decade of study in Paris and abroad in Rome. After successfully portraying Napoleon III’s cousin in marble, Carpeaux was introduced to the emperor and appointed drawing master to his only son, Eugène-Louis-Jean-Joseph Bonaparte (1856–1879). When Louis was 11, Carpeaux made this bust along with several other representations of the young prince, capturing the soft features of his boyhood and the unruly hair that constantly upset his mother, Empress Eugènie. The slightly elevated chin and distant gaze suggest the young man’s pride, an attitude perfectly suitable for the only heir to the Bonaparte dynasty. Although Louis later committed himself to a military career, he had a natural talent for drawing and modeling. Carpeaux himself took note of his skill, lamenting, “it was a thousand pities [his] pupil had any other vocation than that of a sculptor.”

Artist: Carpeaux, Jean Baptiste 1 of 1