Tel: +44 (0)20 7493 5082 | Fax: +44 (0))20 7499 4422 | Email:

Etching - ‘The Oath of Allegiance to the Infant King of Rome’, 1813

Hand-coloured etching. published January 12th 1813 by Thos Clegg, 111 Cheapside, London. Framed and glazed.

Napoleon and Marie Louise sit side by side on a double throne raised on a circular dais of three steps. On the dais is a large model of the Papal tiara, which serves as throne for the King of Rome. He sits astride the cross on its summit, his legs thrust forward, flourishing a (watchman's) rattle, and holding out to the Pope a large sabre with a curved blade. Pius VII (left), in his robes and wearing his tiara, kneels in profile to the right on the lowest step of the dais, kissing the blade. In his right hand is his crosier which either deliberately or through negligence he has broken against a censer which stands on the step of the dais emitting puffs of smoke. The Emperor wears uniform, with a bicorne decorated with plume, crown, and olive twigs. His right foot in his spurred boot rests on a footstool, his right hand is on his thigh and he clutches a paper inscribed 'Oath of Allegiance', while he stares intently at the Pope. The child's wears a Napoleon hat and a frock with a sash. A poodle clipped in the French manner urinates against his tiara-seat. An eagle with a crown poised on its wings and with a laurel wreath, decorates the back of the throne, whose arms are formed of carved eagles with fierce melancholy expressions. Behind the Pope is a bishop, his hands on his breast, an expression of horror on his aquiline features. He is followed by a procession of soldiers with two tricolour flags; this curves into the background, where it is indicated by a line of bayonets. In the foreground (right) are the head and shoulders of a bishop in back view, holding up his hands and leaning sideways as if in horror or abject obeisance. A third bishop beside him (right) turns an agonized profile to the left. Obsequious faces watch from behind the dais, and in front of the bayonets. Behind these is a gallery, filled with ladies, freely indicated. The gallery is festooned with drapery, as is the wall behind it. 

© The Armoury of St James's 17 Piccadilly Arcade London SW1Y 6NH